List of potential topics for master thesis projects

The Division is currently offering master students, who are interested in conducting a research project in the discipline of Health Economics, a variety of opportunities to be supervised by a health economist on its team. The following corresponds to the list of potential topics. The successful student candidates will be deemed as a member of the dynamic, productive and highly efficient team.

Applicants should have a background in economics, health policy, or the analysis of cancer programs; intermediate knowledge of mathematics and statistics; basic knowledge of one statistical analysis software (such as R, STATA, SAS).
For additional information, please send inquiries to Katrin Eike-Verfürth.

Epidemiological and Economic Burden of Cancer in Germany
This project consists of producing state-of-the-art burden of disease reviews for each of the major cancer types in Germany that include: (1) up-to-date epidemiology information and (2) current figures on treatment costs. The epidemiology section will be based mostly on authoritative statistics. The costs section would comprise a collection of cost estimations for Germany from relevant studies. The goal is to obtain a reliable range of annual treatment cost estimations per patient and, ideally, to distinguish cost types.

Bibliometric Analysis of Cancer Research Productivity in Europe
Bibliometric Analysis is the attempt to quantitatively assess the academic quality of journals or authors by statistical methods such as citation rates. It is increasingly applied when measuring the productivity of researchers, research institutions and universities. The project's main objective is to analyse the productivity of the cancer research institutions in Europe.

Geographical Inequalities in Healthcare Utilization between Lung Cancer Patients in Germany
Geographical inequalities within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries regarding cancer morbidity and mortality generates concern as to the final effect of particular health policies on the health status of the population in different regions. Healthcare utilization has been identified as a possible factor that explains these variations. For instance, people who visit a physician on a regular basis are more likely to participate in screening programs, and so, be diagnosed at earlier stages. However, in Germany, there is a lack of knowledge on the level of geographical variation in healthcare utilization and its implications for health outcomes. Based on claims data from members of a German statutory health insurance, a quantitative analysis of the existence of significant geographical differences in healthcare utilization between lung cancer patients will be conducted. Depending on the availability of information and the degree of disaggregation, multilevel and spatial models will be tested.

Socioeconomic Impact of a Cancer Diagnosis: Assessment of the Evidence in the European Context 
Cancer patients are often not able to work or to be at the same level of productivity as the healthy population. Therefore, not only does an insufficient coverage of health care services compromise the financial sustainability of cancer patients and their families, but it also induces indirect non-medical costs, such as productivity losses due to mortality and morbidity. This decrease in productivity could lead to job loss or result in early retirement. As a consequence, patients and their families will experience a decrease in income, and thus, a possible decrease in their socioeconomic status and quality of life (QOL). Based on a group of articles previously identified through a Bibliometric Analysis and related to the European context, the main objective of the project is to analyse and critically evaluate the available evidence on the effect of the socioeconomic impact of cancer in Europe. The study will include, but will not be limited to, the assessment of: (1) type of cancer, (2) type of costs, (3) causes, (4) consequences, and (5) methodology. The purpose of analysing these dimensions is to identify possible patterns on the socioeconomic impact of cancer among the European countries and to identify future research needs.

Cancer Cost during the Stages of Disease Progression and Concentration of Cost at the End-Of-Life
It is well established that health care expenditures per patient increase steeply towards the end of a patient's life. The objective of the project will be to review the relevant literature and search for data that might explain differences between cancers and other chronic diseases (especially those with fatal outcomes). In particular, the project should: (a) compare spending patterns per cancer patient during disease progression with patterns for other chronic and potentially life-threatening disorders, (b) identify literature on end-of-life medical care cost that addresses the contribution of cancer to the phenomenon, and (c) assess trends over time and discuss implications for forecasts of future health care spending.
Depending on access to administrative data, the project could be enhanced by an original research component using patient-level German costs data.

Summarizing and Evaluating the Arguments For and Against a Special Status of Cancer Care: How Different Is It Really, If at All?
A literature review to identify and discuss the arguments for and against the case that cancer is a "special" group of diseases, as well as approaches adopted by some Health Technology Assessment (HTA) agencies to assign a special status to end-of-life treatments. A particular focus may be given to the argument that different cancer types require different evaluation standards, and that the evaluation of cancer treatments should be treated as a special case in the context of Health Technology Assessments (HTAs). The project should encompass both an empirical and a normative dimension.

Exploring the Economics of Lung Cancer from the Perspective of the Statutory Health Insurance in Germany
The main objective is to explore the patterns of health care utilization and costs attributable to a diagnosis of lung cancer in Germany and their changes over time. A bottom-up approach will be conducted based on administrative data provided by a large health insurance company in Germany consisting of eight million insured members registered since 2007. The study includes the identification of epidemiological characteristics of patients with a de novo diagnosis, the quantification and description of the use of healthcare services and treatments, and the estimation of treatment costs attributable to lung cancer from the perspective of a statutory health insurance with a control group. All evaluations will consider subgroup analyses by patient (e.g. age groups, gender) and provider characteristics (e.g. healthcare specialist, non-certified versus certified hospitals), and comorbidities (e.g. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular diseases).


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