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Concept: Cost-utility analysis

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BACKGROUND: The evidence on public health interventions has traditionally focussed on a limited number of costs and benefits, adopted inconsistent methods and is not always relevant to the UK context. This paper develops a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) approach to overcome these challenges. METHODS: A document review and stakeholder consultation was used to identify interventions and the criteria against which they should be assessed. The interventions were measured against these criteria using literature reviews and decision models. Criteria weights were generated using a discrete choice experiment. RESULTS: Fourteen interventions were included in the final ranking. Taxation was ranked as the highest priority. Mass-media campaigns and brief interventions ranked in the top half of interventions. School-based educational interventions, statins and interventions to address mental health problems ranked in the bottom half of interventions. CONCLUSIONS: This paper demonstrates that it is possible to incorporate criteria other than cost-effectiveness in the prioritization of public health investment using an MCDA approach. There are numerous approaches available that adopt the MCDA framework. Further research is required to determine the most appropriate approach in different settings.

Concepts: Health economics, Public health, Decision theory, Decision making software, Cost-utility analysis, Public relations, Multi-criteria decision analysis, New Approach to Appraisal

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In Baltimore, MD, as in many cities throughout the USA, overdose rates are on the rise due to both the increase of prescription opioid abuse and that of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in the drug market. Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are a widely implemented public health intervention throughout the world, with 97 existing in 11 countries worldwide. Research has documented the public health, social, and economic benefits of SIFs, yet none exist in the USA. The purpose of this study is to model the health and financial costs and benefits of a hypothetical SIF in Baltimore.

Concepts: Opioid, Morphine, Drug addiction, Heroin, Naloxone, Cost, Cost-utility analysis, Cost-benefit analysis

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Devices and programs using digital technology to foster or support behavior change (digital interventions) are increasingly ubiquitous, being adopted for use in patient diagnosis and treatment, self-management of chronic diseases, and in primary prevention. They have been heralded as potentially revolutionizing the ways in which individuals can monitor and improve their health behaviors and health care by improving outcomes, reducing costs, and improving the patient experience. However, we are still mainly in the age of promise rather than delivery. Developing and evaluating these digital interventions presents new challenges and new versions of old challenges that require use of improved and perhaps entirely new methods for research and evaluation. This article discusses these challenges and provides recommendations aimed at accelerating the rate of progress in digital behavior intervention research and practice. Areas addressed include intervention development in a rapidly changing technological landscape, promoting user engagement, advancing the underpinning science and theory, evaluating effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, and addressing issues of regulatory, ethical, and information governance. This article is the result of a two-day international workshop on how to create, evaluate, and implement effective digital interventions in relation to health behaviors. It was held in London in September 2015 and was supported by the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council (MRC), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Methodology Research Programme (PI Susan Michie), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of the United States (PI Kevin Patrick). Important recommendations to manage the rapid pace of change include considering using emerging techniques from data science, machine learning, and Bayesian approaches and learning from other disciplines including computer science and engineering. With regard to assessing and promoting engagement, a key conclusion was that sustained engagement is not always required and that for each intervention it is useful to establish what constitutes “effective engagement,” that is, sufficient engagement to achieve the intended outcomes. The potential of digital interventions for testing and advancing theories of behavior change by generating ecologically valid, real-time objective data was recognized. Evaluations should include all phases of the development cycle, designed for generalizability, and consider new experimental designs to make the best use of rich data streams. Future health economics analyses need to recognize and model the complex and potentially far-reaching costs and benefits of digital interventions. In terms of governance, developers of digital behavior interventions should comply with existing regulatory frameworks, but with consideration for emerging standards around information governance, ethics, and interoperability.

Concepts: Health care, Better, Health economics, Medicine, Public health, Health insurance, Cost-effectiveness analysis, Cost-utility analysis

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Sodium consumption is a modifiable risk factor for higher blood pressure (BP) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed voluntary sodium reduction goals targeting processed and commercially prepared foods. We aimed to quantify the potential health and economic impact of this policy.

Concepts: Health economics, Epidemiology, Nutrition, Blood, Food, Cost-effectiveness analysis, Cost-utility analysis, Pharmacoeconomics

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Patients may be offered cardiac rehabilitation (CR), a supervised programme often including exercises, education and psychological care, following a cardiac event, with the aim of reducing morbidity and mortality. Cost-constrained healthcare systems require information about the best use of budget and resources to maximise patient benefit. We aimed to systematically review and critically appraise economic studies of CR and its components. In January 2016, validated electronic searches of the National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED), Health Technology Assessment, PsycINFO, MEDLINE and Embase databases were run to identify full economic evaluations published since 2001. Two levels of screening were used and explicit inclusion criteria were applied. Prespecified data extraction and critical appraisal were performed using the NHS EED handbook and Drummond checklist. The majority of studies concluded that CR was cost-effective versus no CR (incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) ranged from $1065 to $71 755 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY)). Evidence for specific interventions within CR was varied; psychological intervention ranged from dominant (cost saving and more effective) to $226 128 per QALY, telehealth ranged from dominant to $588 734 per QALY and while exercise was cost-effective across all relevant studies, results were subject to uncertainty. Key drivers of cost-effectiveness were risk of subsequent events and hospitalisation, hospitalisation and intervention costs, and utilities. This systematic review of studies evaluates the cost-effectiveness of CR in the modern era, providing a fresh evidence base for policy-makers. Evidence suggests that CR is cost-effective, especially with exercise as a component. However, research is needed to determine the most cost-effective design of CR.

Concepts: Health economics, Costs, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Cost-utility analysis, Healthcare quality, Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry, Critical appraisal

31

Coastal marine ecosystems can be managed by actions undertaken both on the land and in the ocean. Quantifying and comparing the costs and benefits of actions in both realms is therefore necessary for efficient management. Here, we quantify the link between terrestrial sediment runoff and a downstream coastal marine ecosystem and contrast the cost-effectiveness of marine- and land-based conservation actions. We use a dynamic land- and sea-scape model to determine whether limited funds should be directed to 1 of 4 alternative conservation actions-protection on land, protection in the ocean, restoration on land, or restoration in the ocean-to maximise the extent of light-dependent marine benthic habitats across decadal timescales. We apply the model to a case study for a seagrass meadow in Australia. We find that marine restoration is the most cost-effective action over decadal timescales in this system, based on a conservative estimate of the rate at which seagrass can expand into a new habitat. The optimal decision will vary in different social-ecological contexts, but some basic information can guide optimal investments to counteract land- and ocean-based stressors: (1) marine restoration should be prioritised if the rates of marine ecosystem decline and expansion are similar and low; (2) marine protection should take precedence if the rate of marine ecosystem decline is high or if the adjacent catchment is relatively intact and has a low rate of vegetation decline; (3) land-based actions are optimal when the ratio of marine ecosystem expansion to decline is greater than 1:1.4, with terrestrial restoration typically the most cost-effective action; and (4) land protection should be prioritised if the catchment is relatively intact but the rate of vegetation decline is high. These rules of thumb illustrate how cost-effective conservation outcomes for connected land-ocean systems can proceed without complex modelling.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Ratio, Cost-utility analysis, Sustainability, Landscape ecology, Aquatic ecosystem, Systems ecology, Marine biology

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Recently, the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission (GIC) prioritized research on the implications of a clause expressly prohibiting the denial of health insurance coverage for transgender-related services. These medically necessary services include primary and preventive care as well as transitional therapy.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, United States, Cost-effectiveness analysis, Cost-utility analysis, Pharmacoeconomics, Massachusetts

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Background The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) showed that screening with low-dose computed tomography (CT) as compared with chest radiography reduced lung-cancer mortality. We examined the cost-effectiveness of screening with low-dose CT in the NLST. Methods We estimated mean life-years, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), costs per person, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for three alternative strategies: screening with low-dose CT, screening with radiography, and no screening. Estimations of life-years were based on the number of observed deaths that occurred during the trial and the projected survival of persons who were alive at the end of the trial. Quality adjustments were derived from a subgroup of participants who were selected to complete quality-of-life surveys. Costs were based on utilization rates and Medicare reimbursements. We also performed analyses of subgroups defined according to age, sex, smoking history, and risk of lung cancer and performed sensitivity analyses based on several assumptions. Results As compared with no screening, screening with low-dose CT cost an additional $1,631 per person (95% confidence interval [CI], 1,557 to 1,709) and provided an additional 0.0316 life-years per person (95% CI, 0.0154 to 0.0478) and 0.0201 QALYs per person (95% CI, 0.0088 to 0.0314). The corresponding ICERs were $52,000 per life-year gained (95% CI, 34,000 to 106,000) and $81,000 per QALY gained (95% CI, 52,000 to 186,000). However, the ICERs varied widely in subgroup and sensitivity analyses. Conclusions We estimated that screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT would cost $81,000 per QALY gained, but we also determined that modest changes in our assumptions would greatly alter this figure. The determination of whether screening outside the trial will be cost-effective will depend on how screening is implemented. (Funded by the National Cancer Institute; NLST ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00047385 .).

Concepts: Health economics, Cancer, Costs, Tobacco smoking, Cost-utility analysis, Healthcare quality, Paclitaxel, Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry

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BACKGROUND: Effective psychological therapies have been recommended for common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, but provision has been poor. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) may provide a cost-effective solution to this problem. AIMS: To determine the cost-effectiveness of IAPT at the Doncaster demonstration site (2007-2009). METHOD: An economic evaluation comparing costs and health outcomes for patients at the IAPT demonstration site with those for comparator sites, including a separate assessment of lost productivity. Sensitivity analyses were undertaken. RESULTS: The IAPT site had higher service costs and was associated with small additional gains in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) compared with its comparator sites, resulting in a cost per QALY gained of £29 500 using the Short Form (SF-6D). Sensitivity analysis using predicted EQ-5D scores lowered this to £16 857. Costs per reliable and clinically significant (RCS) improvement were £9440 per participant. CONCLUSIONS: Improving Access to Psychological Therapies provided a service that was probably cost-effective within the usual National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) threshold range of £20 000-30 000, but there was considerable uncertainty surrounding the costs and outcome differences.

Concepts: Psychology, Health economics, Costs, Cost-utility analysis, Healthcare quality, Sensitivity analysis, Quality-adjusted life year, Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry

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This cost-effectiveness study analyzes the cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained in a randomized controlled trial that tested school support as a structural intervention to prevent HIV risk factors among Zimbabwe orphan girl adolescents. The intervention significantly reduced early marriage, increased years of schooling completed, and increased health-related quality of life. By reducing early marriage, the literature suggests the intervention reduced HIV infection. The intervention yielded an estimated US$1,472 in societal benefits and an estimated gain of 0.36 QALYs per orphan supported. It cost an estimated US$6/QALY gained, about 1 % of annual per capita income in Zimbabwe. That is well below the maximum price that the World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on Macroeconomics and Health recommends paying for health gains in low and middle income countries. About half the girls in the intervention condition were boarded when they reached high school. For non-boarders, the intervention’s financial benefits exceeded its costs, yielding an estimated net cost savings of $502 per pupil. Without boarding, the intervention would yield net savings even if it were 34 % less effective in replication. Boarding was not cost-effective. It cost an additional $1,234 per girl boarded (over the 3 years of the study, discounted to present value at a 3 % discount rate) but had no effect on any of the outcome measures relative to girls in the treatment group who did not board. For girls who did not board, the average cost of approximately 3 years of school support was US$973.

Concepts: Health economics, Costs, Gain, High school, Cost-utility analysis, World Health Organization, Income, Per capita income