Objectives: This paper aims to describe the added value of combining cost-effectiveness and ethical evaluations when the preferences of the decision maker toward cost-effectiveness evaluation outcomes are not known, with the French national neonatal screening of cystic fibrosis (CF) as a case-study.
Methods: A cost-effectiveness analysis comparing four CF neonatal screening strategies, with or without DNA testing, was performed. Ethical positions toward their outcomes were described. In addition, a post-hoc analysis of the ethical issues being considered relevant from the decision-makers’ perspective was conducted.
Results: Two strategies were found equally cost-effective. Among them, choosing the non-DNA or a DNA-based strategy constrains the decision maker to render a judgement between different ethical issues or disagreements associated with the screening program.
Conclusions: The analysis supports the relevance of combining cost-effectiveness and ethics evaluation in developing health policy, as a way to reveal or clarify the motives associated with health. The choice of the decision maker to favor the DNA-based strategy, which was not originally recommended, creates the opportunity to make explicit the role played by ethical issues in the decision.