Systematic review and meta-analysis of public hospital efficiency studies in Gulf region and selected countries in similar settings

Ahmed Alatawi, Sayem Ahmed, Louis Niessen, Jahangir Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The assessment of hospital efficiency is attracting interest worldwide, particularly in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The objective of this study was to review the literature on public hospital efficiency and synthesise the findings in GCC countries and comparable settings. Methods: We systematically searched six scientific databases, references and grey literature for studies that measured the efficiency of public hospitals in appropriate countries, and followed PRISMA guidelines to present the results. We summarised the included studies in terms of samples, methods/technologies and findings, then assessed their quality. We meta-analysed the efficiency estimates using Spearman's rank correlations and logistic regression, to examine the internal validity of the findings. Results: We identified and meta-analysed 22 of 1128 studies. Four studies were conducted in GCC nations, 18 came from Iran and Turkey. The pooled technical-efficiency (TE) was 0.792 (SE ± 0.03). There were considerable variations in model specification, analysis orientation and variables used in the studies, which influenced efficiency estimates. The studies lacked some elements required in quality appraisal, achieving an average of 73%. Meta-analysis showed negative correlations between sample size and efficiency scores; the odd ratio was 0.081 (CI 0.005: 1.300; P value = 0.07) at 10% risk level. The choice of model orientation was significantly influenced (82%) by the studied countries' income categories, which was compatible with the strategic plans of these countries. Conclusions: The studies showed methodological and qualitative deficiencies that limited their credibility. Our review suggested that methodology and assumption choices have a substantial impact on efficiency measurements. Given the GCC countries' strategic plans and resource allocations, these nations need further efficiency research using high-quality data, different orientations and developed models. This will establish an evidence-based knowledge base appropriate for use in public hospital assessments, policy- and decision-making and the assurance of value for money.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalCost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 6 2019


  • Data envelopment analysis
  • Gulf countries
  • Public hospitals
  • Stochastic frontier analysis
  • Systematic review
  • Technical efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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