Objectives: To examine the growing evidence and the consensus in the medical community concerning the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO2T) and to suggest future research areas to ensure the appropriate use of this technology.
Methods: A literature search of articles published between 1985 and 2000 was conducted using PubMed to describe the growth of HBO2T-related articles published over the past fifteen years. In addition, articles involving the qualitative synthesis of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of HBO2T in thirteen major application areas were identified and compared with the changing view of the medical community toward the evidence of HBO2T.
Results: The total number of HBO2T-related articles published annually has steadily increased over the past fifteen years. This increase has gradually contributed to a consensus in the medical community concerning the evidence of efficacy in its major application areas. However, information regarding the cost-effectiveness of HBO2T is still extremely limited.
Conclusions: Although evidence concerning the efficacy of HBO2T has been growing in the past, more evidence is still needed for some of its major application areas. Moreover, there is an urgent need to shift part of the research focus on HBO2T to its cost-effectiveness to provide decision makers with relevant information to evaluate this technology objectively.
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