The National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, considers data harmonization in substance use disorder, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) research a high-priority. Data harmonization allows investigators to synthesize data across independent studies and promote more rigorous and comparable analyses of an intervention, program, or policy. Harmonizing data also ensures that economic evaluations of treatment remain consistent with current cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit guidelines such as the recommendations of the Second Panel on Cost-Effectiveness in Health and Medicine.
Researchers affiliated with the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV, and HIV (CHERISH) co-authored a study that demonstrates the feasibility of standardizing health services data collection and analysis to evaluate economic costs. “Harmonization and standardization of healthcare resource utilization measures in substance use disorder research are feasible, and the resulting data allows for more accurate outcome comparisons across studies, as well as economic analyses,” shares Michelle Papp, primary author of the study and assistant research coordinator at Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine. Findings also support ongoing data harmonization efforts including those by the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, which integrates studies to develop, test, and validate evidence-based approaches to prevent and reduce opioid use and overdose deaths.