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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


VELLA, Vincenzo Alberto et al. Systematic review of guidelines in estimating social costs on drugs. Gac Sanit [online]. 2018, vol.32, n.5, pp.481-487.  Epub Dec 07, 2020. ISSN 0213-9111.


To systematically review guidance documents for the estimation of the social cost of illegal drugs, and to define standards for this estimation.


A systematic literature search was conducted between April and May 2015 and updated in November 2015. Pubmed, Scopus, and Google Scholar were searched. Studies were included only if they provided indications of analytical methods for calculating the social cost of illegal drugs consumption.


A total of 21 papers were selected for a final review. Four main areas of discussion were identified: a) alternative theories for the framework design; b) basic concepts definition; c) theoretical issues in the application of the framework and; d) definition of the cost matrix and its elements. The review exercise enabled the definition of two analytical approaches, which are proposed as references for estimation in the field.


although social cost is a well-established method in the literature, there is a lack of agreement on the most appropriate approaches in the area of estimation of the social cost of illegal drugs consumption. Moreover, the two analytical approaches proposed are aimed at promoting more research focused at sophisticating the methodology in the field.

Keywords : Socioeconomic factors; Costs and cost analysis; Cost of illness; Guideline; Substance-related disorders.

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