Research Guide for ECON 3111: Health Economics
The following are selected resources and search tips to help you complete the assignment in this course.
Clarification & Definitions:
It is important to be able to clearly define and understand the economic and health concepts of your topic. For explanations and definitions use a good textbook or a reference source such as the following:
21st Century Economics: A Reference Handbook. HB 171 .A19 2010 2 vols. REF
Dictionary of Health Economics. RA 410 .A3 C85 2010 REF. Has over 2,000 definitions of terms and list of 100 well-conducted cost-effectiveness analysis studies.
Oxford Handbook of Health Economics. RA 410.5 .094 2011 REF. Concise chapters written by leading authorities in the field cover a wide range of health economics subjects including “economics of infectious diseases”, and the methods of cost-effectiveness analysis to inform decisions about health care interventions”.
HTA Glossary. The Health Technology Assessment glossary provides definitions for terms used by the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA), Health Technology Assessment international (HTAi) and other partner organizations.
MedlinePlus Medical Dictionary. By the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
TIP: Check for glossaries and definitions of terms within each source you use.
To Find Books and Reports on Health Economics Topics:
Use the Library Catalogue. (First "Quick Link" on the library homepage)
Tips: Start with a keyword search; combine different concepts with "and"; consider alternate spellings/synonyms, etc.; for the best books found, see the Subject Terms used (select "Catalog Record"); search again using the most appropriate subject terms. For example:
kw search: 'health economics'
-- use single quotation marks for phrases; (NOTE: double quotes is the norm for most search engines)
kw search: health and policy
-- use "and" to find books containing both terms
kw search: economic$ and (medicare or 'health insurance')
-- use the truncation symbol: $ to get the root word plus all possible endings; (NOTE: * (asterisk) is the norm for most databases);
-- use "or" to search for synonyms or to get books using either one of the terms;
-- use parentheses when combining "and" and "or" in the same search string.
Searching with subject terms (Select "Starts with" and Subject field) can be a more precise search, and can provide ideas for related terms to search. For example:
Health care reform -- Canada
Medical economics -- Canada
Medical policy -- Canada
Medical care -- Canada -- Finance
National health insurance
Smoking -- Economic aspects-- Canada
Public health -- Canada
In Advanced Keyword Search you can limit search terms to the subject field, among others.
e.g. health or medical in Subject and economic aspects in Subject
NOTE: Not all records have subject headings; for the broadest searches possible use only "words or phrase" search.
For publications by the federal government: Canada in Author
For books (not government or electronic publications): Location: Book Stacks
Selected Sources for Health Economics Policy and Research Reports:
Canadian Agency for Drugs & Technologies in Health (CADTH). A non-profit organization that provides objective evidence and recommendations to decision makers on the optimal use of drugs and medical devices in the health care system. Reports searchable from this main page include "Common Drug Review Reports", "Health Technology Assessments", "Rapid Response" reports, etc.
Canadian Best Practices Portal, Public Health Agency of Canada. See especially the "Policy Issues" tab.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). An independent, non-partisan research institute that publishes research on a wide variety of public policy issues including government budgets, inequality, and health care. Publications can be selected by topic, e.g.: "Health, health care system, pharmacare".
Health Technology Assessment Database (Canadian and International). The HTA database contains details of completed and ongoing health technology assessments from around the world. Funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination.
Institute of Health Economics. A not-for-profit organization based in Alberta, with hundreds of publications searchable by topic and type.
International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR). A global health economics organization. Research tools include the searchable Scientific Presentations Database and International Digest of Databases, with links to health-related databases around the world including 27 Canadian.
GALLOP Portal. Database of federal and provincial/territorial government documents (except PEI, Yukon and Nunavut). Not comprehensive. See individual provincial/territorial legislative library catalogues or government websites for more.
Use Advanced Google or Google site search to find information within an organization's website, (e.g. HIV/AIDS site:canada.ca for federal government and departments, or HIV/AIDS site:gc.ca for federal ABC's.)
To Find Articles:
The library subscribes to article databases that allow you to search for articles on your topic in many journals at once. Select the Quick Link: A-Z List of Databases on the library homepage, then select a database by name, subject area or type of article needed.
Some recommended databases for this course:
ProQuest(All) (Includes hundreds of academic journals on health, business and economics, Canadian and international news sources, popular, trade, and professional journals, research institute and government reports, dissertations, and more. Has the most Canadian content.)
TIP: Search broadly, using keywords in "All but Fulltext", then "filter" results as needed, e.g. by type (e.g. scholarly), classification options (e.g. experimental/theoretical, economic theory, etc.). Note appropriate subject terms used in articles found, and use these to modify subsequent searches. More precise searches can be done in individual or grouped databases using the database-specific thesaurus and search fields.
EBSCO Databases (All). Includes Business Source Premier (covers hundreds of academic journals on business and economics, popular, trade, and professional journals), SocINDEX, (hundreds of public health policy and related journals), America History and Life, Historical Abstracts, Environment Complete, PsycInfo, PsycArticles, etc.
TIP: Search (All) by keyword(s) then filter by type of publication, methodology, (e.g. empirical), etc. More precise searches can be done in individual databases using the database-specific thesaurus and search fields.
Science Direct (A database of primarily peer-reviewed academic research journals including economics, health, and other social sciences.)
TIP: Abstract/Title/Keyword searches the abstract, title and assigned keywords. "All fields" searches the full text and all fields listed except the references.
See also other Multidisciplinary databases listed on the A-Z List of Databases.
Cochrane Library. Includes a database of systematic reviews on the medical effectiveness of healthcare treatments. (Full text reviews available through the Wiley Online Library database.)
Health Evidence. A McMaster University database of thousands of quality-rated systematic reviews on the effectiveness of public health interventions. Compiled by regular searches of several medical and health journal databases. Updated monthly.
Federal Science Library. A partnership of seven departmental science libraries including Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada. The catalogue provides access to their print and electronic holdings and to scientific information from outside sources as well, e.g. PubMed. Select "results from beyond the library's collection" to search all. Results can be limited by discipline, e.g. Economics.
Search tips: Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT must be written in ALL CAPS. Check Journal Finder for access to the full text of articles found.
Google Scholar searches a wide variety of scholarly sources (information from university websites, academic social media, etc. and includes many pre-peer reviewed sources.)
NOTE: Additional care needs to be taken to evaluate sources found.
TIP: In Google Scholar, set "Library Links" to Mount Allison University to make sure articles found are linked to MtA's subscription databases. Use the officially published version of articles found when possible.
Request an Interlibrary Loan if you do not find access to the fulltext of an article through Journal Finder.
Sources for Health Statistics:
Canadian Institute for Health Information. Key site for Canadian health statistics. CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to deliver comparable and actionable information to accelerate improvements in health care, health system performance and population health.
Health Canada. Has basic information on Canada's health care system, links to health legislation and agreements, etc., and some health indicators.
Public Health Agency of Canada Public Health Infobase. Includes Canadian Chronic Disease Indicators, and Surveillance System, Health Inequalities Data Tool, and more. The Surveillance page lists the Public Health Agency of Canada's ongoing surveillance projects with links to the latest information. Examples include Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease, etc.
Statistics Canada Health Indicators. A compilation of over 80 indicators measuring health status, non-medical determinants of health, health system performance and community and health system characteristics. Statistics Canada is also the largest source of a wide variety of other socio-economic statistics. Search the website as a whole or CANSIM for time series of data. More detailed health statistics can be accessed through the DLI Beyond 20/20 Web Data Server (WDS), a multi-dimensional table viewer to access aggregate data in the Data Liberation Initiative Collection. DLI Nesstar allows you to search for survey variables across the collection of PUMFs (public use microdata files), and public master file metadata. PUMFs can be manipulated online by selecting variables to generate custom tables or downloaded for use with most statistical software (SAS, SPSS, etc.). Nesstar Webview User Guide.
OECD Health Data. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development statistics and indicators on health and health systems across OECD countries.
WHO Global Health Observatory Data. World Health Organization gateway to health-related statistics for over 100 indicators for its 194 member states.
World Bank HealthStats Portal. Collection of Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) statistics. It includes over 250 indicators on topics such as health financing and the health workforce; immunization and the incidence of HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, non-communicable diseases and the causes of death; nutrition, clean water and sanitation, and reproductive health; as well as population estimates and population projections.
Evaluating & Citing Sources:
Evaluate sources critically while researching; note all citation details needed up front while still selecting sources. If important pieces of information are not given (e.g. author, publication date, etc.) the source is likely not suitable for an academic essay. Evaluating grey literature: e.g. policy studies, reports, and research papers from government, research institutes, think tanks, and other organizations can be tricky. Go to their home page. Read the “About” page; see who funds the organization and what their mandate is. Check out their other publications. Look for researchers' biographical information and qualifications. Read critically. Follow up important statements by checking the sources cited. Always use the original source if possible.
See the "Research Help" tab on the library website for tip sheets on writing, researching, evaluating, and citing sources. The "Academic Integrity: Avoiding Plagiarism" section has advice on how to avoid plagiarism and why citing sources is important.
The "Cite Your Sources" section has links to brief guides explaining how to use common citation styles like APA, Chicago, etc. For
Need help? Librarians are available to help you at the Research Help Desk on the main floor of the library and at firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions specific to this course you can also contact the Economics subject librarian: Anita Cannon