Economic evaluation to inform social care decision making

Helen Weatherly In progress  


This Developing Research Leaders Award is supporting Dr Helen Weatherly.

Helen has led or been the solo care economist on multiple economic evaluations of social care interventions and has published related studies. Helen aims to expand her expertise in applying economic evaluation to social care and to work with stakeholders to enhance the impact and use of economic evaluation to inform practice. This is particularly important in the social care context given the challenges faced by the sector and the unique value that economics adds. Helen is a co-applicant on a new project, led by Professor Yvonne Birks, which is an Adults Social Care Partnership (ASCP) and a regional capacity building network. The ASCP project offers a novel opportunity to network and promote greater access to information on the effective use of increasingly scarce resources. The award funding will enable Helen to spend more time with the network to better understand how decision-making in social care works and how social care professionals view and use economics, and their expectations of its role in theory and in practice.


Specific objectives include:

  • Developing skills and confidence in leading research on the economics of adult social care
  • Developing greater understanding about the role of economic evaluation to inform social care decision making, including learning more about decision makers’ points of view
  • Exploring how best to support uptake, use and impact of economics to inform social care decision making
  • Supporting and enabling decision makers to invest in interventions and services that offer value for money.


Activities during the Fellowship include:

Year 1

  • Undertake a research leadership course for women
  • Establish links with social care decision makers and learn their views on economic evaluation and its’ use to inform decision making. Embed this activity within the ASCP network mentioned above
  • Undertake workshops with the network, engaging with them to increase understanding of economics and economic evaluation and its’ use to inform decision making.

Year 2

  • Support impact as measured by a survey. The survey would build on earlier informal contact with decision makers to enquire more systematically about the use, benefits, challenges and facilitators to using economic evaluation to inform decision making
  • Write a report based on the survey, for feeding back to the ASCP network and for write up as an academic article.


  • Implement the techniques and skills learnt and practiced through the women in leadership course
  • Learn from professionals in social care about data routinely collected and available for research. Explore views of professionals on its usefulness and opportunities to improve the research evidence base at minimal cost
  • Learn more about other data sources and routinely collected data (e.g., ASCOF) and its use and quality to inform economic evaluation in social care
  • Support ASCP network collaboration with the aim of submitting a bid to examine the role of economic evaluation in social care decision making
  • Explore channels by which economic evaluation might inform other types of provision beyond publicly funded social care
  • Build research capacity, spending more time supporting less experienced researchers engaging in social care research.