OBJECTIVES This evaluation investigates characteristics of health economics evaluations in CAM. Particular emphasis is paid to differences regarding continental origin and time of publication of investigations. METHODS Database searches to identify potential studies were carried out in Medline (via Pubmed), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials 1st Quarter 2010, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005 to January 2010, the Cochrane Methodology Register 1st Quarter 2010, the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects 1st Quarter 2010, Health Technology Assessment (via OVID) and CAMbase. Data were screened, extracted and the methodological quality of the underlying publications was assessed. Univariate statistical analyses were carried out and Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis was performed. RESULTS One hundred and forty-three studies were included in this review, 43 of which were randomised trials. Of all included studies 56% were carried out in primary care settings and 54% chose the perspective of health care provider/health insurance. When the study characteristics were stratified for the "year of publication" (before versus in/after 2002), locally significant differences were found for study setting (Chi-square p=0.014) and methodological quality (Mann/Whitney p=0.014). Furthermore, studies from America differed from those conducted in Europe with respect to the field of CAM (p<0.001, Chi-square). There were also differences in trial settings as the majority of European studies was carried out in primary care settings (n=54; 70%), whereas American studies had a broader scope with only 24 studies (42%) in the field of primary care. The CART analyses confirmed the findings of the univariate analysis. CONCLUSION Differences in healthcare systems were mirrored by the observed differences in CAM related health economic evaluations. Basic requirements for reporting and conducting clinical trials ought to be met in more studies evaluating health economics. Such evaluations need to include validated quality of life estimates and preferably report the use of incremental cost effectiveness or net health benefit estimates.