Cost-effectiveness of a national exercise referral programme for primary care patients in Wales: results of a randomised controlled trial.
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BMC Public Health
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BACKGROUND: A recent HTA review concluded that there was a need for RCTs of exercise referral schemes (ERS) for people with a medical diagnosis who might benefit from exercise. Overall, there is still uncertainty as to the cost-effectiveness of ERS. Evaluation of public health interventions places challenges on conventional health economics approaches. This economic evaluation of a national public health intervention addresses this issue of where ERS may be most cost effective through subgroup analysis, particularly important at a time of financial constraint. METHOD: This economic analysis included 798 individuals aged 16 and over (55% of the randomised controlled trial (RCT) sample) with coronary heart disease risk factors and/or mild to moderate anxiety, depression or stress. Individuals were referred by health professionals in a primary care setting to a 16 week national exercise referral scheme (NERS) delivered by qualified exercise professionals in local leisure centres in Wales, UK. Health-related quality of life, health care services use, costs per participant in NERS, and willingness to pay for NERS were measured at 6 and 12 months. RESULTS: The base case analysis assumed a participation cost of £385 per person per year, with a mean difference in QALYs between the two groups of 0.027. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was £12,111 per QALY gained. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis demonstrated an 89% probability of NERS being cost-effective at a payer threshold of £30,000 per QALY. When participant payments of £1 and £2 per session were considered, the cost per QALY fell from £12,111 (base case) to £10,926 and £9,741, respectively. Participants with a mental health risk factor alone or in combination with a risk of chronic heart disease generated a lower ICER (£10,276) compared to participants at risk of chronic heart disease only (£13,060). CONCLUSIONS: Results of cost-effectiveness analyses suggest that NERS is cost saving in fully adherent participants. Though full adherence to NERS (62%) was higher for the economics sample than the main sample (44%), results still suggest that NERS can be cost-effective in Wales with respect to existing payer thresholds particularly for participants with mental health and CHD risk factors. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN47680448.
AuthorsEdwards, RT; Linck, P; Hounsome, N; Raisanen, L; Williams, N; Moore, L; Murphy, S
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