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Why the Gap in Evaluating the Social Constructs and the Value of Medicines?


  • Jacquelyn McRae

    (University of Maryland)

  • Eberechukwu Onukwugha

    (University of Maryland)


The compounding effects of occupying two or more social identities, such as being “Black” and “female” have been described in intersectionality theory. Intersectionality, a term coined by legal scholar and activist Kimberlé Crenshaw, is a framework to consider race and other social identities as overlapping, dynamic, and interdependent identities. Since its inception, intersectionality has made significant in-roads to inform the conceptualization and empirical investigations of race, gender, and other social identities in sociology, critical race theory, anthropology, feminist theory, and other disciplines. However, to date, cost effectiveness research has not systematically examined race intersecting with other social identities in the valuation of medicines using social theory, such as intersectionality. Consequently, cost effectiveness analysis, which is a method to study the value of medicines in diverse populations, has not been subject to sufficient examination through an intersectionality framework. In the US context, the racial injustices experienced and documented within diverse communities highlight that health outcomes cannot be examined in a vacuum; overlapping social identities such as race and class in relation to context have real effects on health behaviors, measured preferences, and economic costs. Failure to examine the effects of overlapping social identities on heterogeneity in benefits and costs can result in inadequate information for decision makers to evaluate the value of treatments. Without consideration of the overlapping social identities in diverse populations, there is a risk that cost effectiveness analysis results will not accurately reflect the value of treatments in socially disadvantaged populations. In this Current Opinion, we provide an outline for conducting socially conscious cost effectiveness analyses, using intersectionality as one example.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacquelyn McRae & Eberechukwu Onukwugha, 2021. "Why the Gap in Evaluating the Social Constructs and the Value of Medicines?," PharmacoEconomics, Springer, vol. 39(12), pages 1365-1372, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:pharme:v:39:y:2021:i:12:d:10.1007_s40273-021-01075-w
    DOI: 10.1007/s40273-021-01075-w

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Matthew Robson & Miqdad Asaria & Richard Cookson & Aki Tsuchiya & Shehzad Ali, 2017. "Eliciting the Level of Health Inequality Aversion in England," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(10), pages 1328-1334, October.
    2. Bauer, Greta R., 2014. "Incorporating intersectionality theory into population health research methodology: Challenges and the potential to advance health equity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 10-17.
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