Cost and cost-effectiveness of a school-based education program to reduce salt intake in children and their families in China.
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OBJECTIVE: The School-based Education Program to Reduce Salt Intake in Children and Their Families study was a cluster randomized control trial among grade five students in 28 primary schools and their families in Changzhi, China. It achieved a significant effect in lowering systolic blood pressure (SBP) in all family adults by 2.3 mmHg and in elderlies (aged > = 60 years) by 9.5 mmHg. The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of this salt reduction program. METHODS: Costs of the intervention were assessed using an ingredients approach to identify resource use. A trial-based incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was estimated based on the observed effectiveness in lowering SBP. A Markov model was used to estimate the long-term cost-effectiveness of the intervention, and then based on population data, extrapolated to a scenario where the program is scaled up nationwide. Findings were presented in terms of an incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY). The perspective was that of the health sector. RESULTS: The intervention cost Int$19.04 per family and yielded an ICER of Int$2.74 (90% CI: 1.17-12.30) per mmHg reduction of SBP in all participants (combining children and adult participants together) compared with control group. If scaled up nationwide for 10 years and assumed deterioration in treatment effect of 50% over this period, it would reach 165 million families and estimated to avert 42,720 acute myocardial infarction deaths and 107,512 stroke deaths in China. This would represent a gain of 635,816 QALYs over 10-year time frame, translating into Int$1,358 per QALY gained. CONCLUSION: Based on WHO-CHOICE criteria, our analysis demonstrated that the proposed salt reduction strategy is highly cost-effective, and if scaled up nationwide, the benefits could be substantial. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01821144.