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Table 1 Comparison of SROI with traditional economic evaluation frameworks

From: Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology to account for value for money of public health interventions: a systematic review

Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (CEA) Cost-Utility Analysis (CUA) Sub-type of CEA Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) Social Return on Investment (SROI)
Main objective
To compare costs and impact of alternatives within the same domain To compare costs and impact of alternatives within the same domain To assess if an intervention is worth the investment. To assess if an intervention is worth the investment.
Costs
Monetary value Monetary value Monetary value Monetary value
Benefits
Benefits linked to health improvements. Benefits linked to health improvements. Captures health and non-health impacts. Captures health and non-health impacts, underpinned by the “triple bottom line” approach (social, economic and environmental). In addition, seeks to account for and value potential negative effect of interventions.
Reported as natural units E.g. lives saved or cases averted Reported as Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) gained/ Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) averted/ Healthy life-years gained Reported as monetary value or welfare benefit Reported as monetary value or welfare benefit
Lists benefits that cannot be easily monetised and explains why they cannot be monetised Uses financial proxies to estimate monetary value of benefits that cannot be easily monetised
Level of application
Intervention level Intervention level Usually intervention level Intervention, project, programme, policy or organisation level
Timeline of analysis
Retrospective or Prospective Retrospective or Prospective Retrospective or Prospective Retrospective or Prospective
Discounting of future value
Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stakeholder engagement
No No No Yes
Theory of change
No No No Yes
Main output of analysis
Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratio (ICER) Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratio (ICER) Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) Social Return on Investment Ratio
Economic Internal Rate of Return (EIRR) Net Present Value (NPV)
Net Present Value (NPV) Payback period
Break-even point
Interpretation of main output of analysis
Intervention with higher cost-effectiveness ratio is better Intervention with higher cost-effectiveness ratio is better BCR > 1 is worthwhile investment SROI ratio > 1 is worthwhile investment
Relevance
Priority setting and resource allocation Priority setting and resource allocation Priority setting and resource allocation Priority setting
Resource allocation
Stakeholder relationship building,
Accountability framework, Management tool