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 of 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 in 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) and current figures on treatment costs. The epidemiology section will be mostly based on the authoritative statistics. The costs section comprises the 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 distinguishing cost types.
Economic Impact of Smoking Bans in Public Places in Germany (and EU): A Re-Analysis
A 2016 Cochrane systematic review pointed out that passive smoking is related to negative health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease. Although several studies from different EU countries pointed out that smoking bans had little impact on restaurants, pubs, and the hospitality industry, they did not evaluate the economic benefit of smoking bans on individuals' health. This project aims to add more evidence to the economic impact of smoking bans by adding the missing part of economic gain through improved health of the citizens in Germany (and other EU countries).

Geographical Inequalities in Cancer Morbidity and Mortality in Germany
Geographical inequalities within OECD countries in cancer morbidity and mortality generates concern regarding the final effect of particular health policies on the health status of the population in different regions. Based on claims data from insured persons of a German statutory health insurance company, a quantitative analysis on the existence of significant differences in morbidity and mortality in cancer will be conducted. The analysis focuses on one of the major cancer types: lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer. Depending on the availability of information and the degree of disaggregation, multilevel and spatial models will be tested.

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.

Drivers of the Increasing Cost of Cancer Care
Drivers of cancer treatment costs are not fully understood: what types of service drive total costs (drugs, physicians, hospitals)? How did this develop in the last years? This analysis will shed light on the drivers of cancer by looking at differences by country and type of cancer. First, there will be a search for the most promising disease or disease area. Second, a literature review to summarize the current knowledge of the factors that drive cancer costs will be conducted. Data from the sickness funds can be used as well or alternatively.

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 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; and (b) identify literature on end-of-life medical care cost that addresses the contribution of cancer to the phenomenon, (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 as 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.

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