Does Mass Deworming Affect Child Nutrition? Meta-Analysis, Cost-Effectiveness, and Statistical Power
With more meta-analyses being done of common nutrition interventions, the authors address the statistical underpinnings of such approaches and whether they are likely to yield actionable and dependable results. This particular paper updates and expands a prior meta-analysis that called into question the cost-effectiveness of deworming campaigns. There is consensus that the relevant deworming drugs are safe and effective, so the key question facing policymakers is whether the expected benefits of mass drug administration (MDA) exceed the roughly $0.30 per treatment cost. The authors find the prior analysis was underpowered and therefore unable to rule out weight gain effects previously linked to deworming. They find the implied average effect of mass deworming on infected children to be 0.22 kg per U.S. dollar, which is “more than 35 times that from school feeding programs as estimated in randomized controlled trail studies.” The authors warn that under-powered meta-analyses are “common” in health research, and this methodological issue will be important as economists and other social scientists conduct more.
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