Trojan A, Nickel S, Engelhardt HD
Gesundheitswesen 2008 Apr;70(4):219-30
OBJECTIVES: This article primarily reflects on the economic benefits of self-help associations, and the problems of their adequate evaluation.
METHODS: We present a critical discussion of the concepts in the economic evaluation and empiricism by secondary analysis of data available based on a review of published studies as well as the re-analysis of primary data from our Hamburg study in 2003 (n=345 or 52.4% of the self-help associations registered in Hamburg).
RESULTS: Most approaches to evaluate the economic benefits of self-help groups were inspired by the idea of output-related, cost-benefit analysis, by which activities of members were monetarily estimated. Projected for Hamburg, the productive performance amounts to nearly 1.8 million Euro per month, and 21.5 million per year. Furthermore, additional voluntary commitment can be mobilized at 300,000 Euro per month.
CONCLUSION: All calculations are based on some assumptions (e.g., coefficient of productivity, wages) which cannot be finally verified. In view of the state of research reviewed we strongly recommend to bring forward both outcome-oriented approaches of economic evaluation, and new representative studies of self-help groups for Germany as a whole.