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1.  Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain 
Objective To determine the effectiveness of lessons in the Alexander technique, massage therapy, and advice from a doctor to take exercise (exercise prescription) along with nurse delivered behavioural counselling for patients with chronic or recurrent back pain.
Design Factorial randomised trial.
Setting 64 general practices in England.
Participants 579 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain; 144 were randomised to normal care, 147 to massage, 144 to six Alexander technique lessons, and 144 to 24 Alexander technique lessons; half of each of these groups were randomised to exercise prescription.
Interventions Normal care (control), six sessions of massage, six or 24 lessons on the Alexander technique, and prescription for exercise from a doctor with nurse delivered behavioural counselling.
Main outcome measures Roland Morris disability score (number of activities impaired by pain) and number of days in pain.
Results Exercise and lessons in the Alexander technique, but not massage, remained effective at one year (compared with control Roland disability score 8.1: massage -0.58, 95% confidence interval -1.94 to 0.77, six lessons -1.40, -2.77 to -0.03, 24 lessons -3.4, -4.76 to -2.03, and exercise -1.29, -2.25 to -0.34). Exercise after six lessons achieved 72% of the effect of 24 lessons alone (Roland disability score -2.98 and -4.14, respectively). Number of days with back pain in the past four weeks was lower after lessons (compared with control median 21 days: 24 lessons -18, six lessons -10, massage -7) and quality of life improved significantly. No significant harms were reported.
Conclusions One to one lessons in the Alexander technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain. Six lessons followed by exercise prescription were nearly as effective as 24 lessons.
Trial registration National Research Register N0028108728.
PMCID: PMC3272681  PMID: 18713809
2.  Alexander Technique Lessons, Acupuncture Sessions or usual care for patients with chronic neck pain (ATLAS): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:209.
Chronic neck pain is a common condition in the adult population. More research is needed to evaluate interventions aiming to facilitate beneficial long-term change. We propose to evaluate the effect of Alexander Technique lessons and acupuncture in a rigorously conducted pragmatic trial with an embedded qualitative study.
We will recruit 500 patients who have been diagnosed with neck pain in primary care, who have continued to experience neck pain for at least three months with 28% minimum cut-off score on the Northwick Park Neck Pain Questionnaire (NPQ). We will exclude patients with serious underlying pathology, prior cervical spine surgery, history of psychosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoporosis, haemophilia, cancer, HIV or hepatitis, or with alcohol or drug dependency currently or in the last 12 months, or actively pursuing compensation or with pending litigation.
The York Trials Unit will randomly allocate participants using a secure computer-based system. We will use block randomisation with allocation to each intervention arm being unambiguously concealed from anyone who might subvert the randomisation process.
Participants will be randomised in equal proportions to Alexander Technique lessons, acupuncture or usual care alone. Twenty 30-minute Alexander Technique lessons will be provided by teachers registered with the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique and twelve 50-minute sessions of acupuncture will be provided by acupuncturists registered with the British Acupuncture Council. All participants will continue to receive usual GP care.
The primary outcome will be the NPQ at 12 months, with the secondary time point at 6 months, and an area-under-curve analysis will include 3, 6 and 12 month time-points. Adverse events will be documented. Potential intervention effect modifiers and mediators to be explored include: self-efficacy, stress management, and the incorporation of practitioner advice about self-care and lifestyle. Qualitative material will be used to address issues of safety, acceptability and factors that impact on longer term outcomes.
This study will provide robust evidence on whether there are significant clinical benefits to patients, economic benefits demonstrating value for money, and sufficient levels of acceptability and safety.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN15186354
PMCID: PMC3720220  PMID: 23841901
3.  A lesson in business: cost-effectiveness analysis of a novel financial incentive intervention for increasing physical activity in the workplace 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:953.
Recently both the UK and US governments have advocated the use of financial incentives to encourage healthier lifestyle choices but evidence for the cost-effectiveness of such interventions is lacking. Our aim was to perform a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) of a quasi-experimental trial, exploring the use of financial incentives to increase employee physical activity levels, from a healthcare and employer’s perspective.
Employees used a 'loyalty card’ to objectively monitor their physical activity at work over 12 weeks. The Incentive Group (n=199) collected points and received rewards for minutes of physical activity completed. The No Incentive Group (n=207) self-monitored their physical activity only. Quality of life (QOL) and absenteeism were assessed at baseline and 6 months follow-up. QOL scores were also converted into productivity estimates using a validated algorithm. The additional costs of the Incentive Group were divided by the additional quality adjusted life years (QALYs) or productivity gained to calculate incremental cost effectiveness ratios (ICERs). Cost-effectiveness acceptability curves (CEACs) and population expected value of perfect information (EVPI) was used to characterize and value the uncertainty in our estimates.
The Incentive Group performed more physical activity over 12 weeks and by 6 months had achieved greater gains in QOL and productivity, although these mean differences were not statistically significant. The ICERs were £2,900/QALY and £2,700 per percentage increase in overall employee productivity. Whilst the confidence intervals surrounding these ICERs were wide, CEACs showed a high chance of the intervention being cost-effective at low willingness-to-pay (WTP) thresholds.
The Physical Activity Loyalty card (PAL) scheme is potentially cost-effective from both a healthcare and employer’s perspective but further research is warranted to reduce uncertainty in our results. It is based on a sustainable “business model” which should become more cost-effective as it is delivered to more participants and can be adapted to suit other health behaviors and settings. This comes at a time when both UK and US governments are encouraging business involvement in tackling public health challenges.
PMCID: PMC3852549  PMID: 24112295
Physical activity; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Financial incentives; Workplace intervention
4.  United Kingdom back pain exercise and manipulation (UK BEAM) randomised trial: cost effectiveness of physical treatments for back pain in primary care 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7479):1381.
Objective To assess the cost effectiveness of adding spinal manipulation, exercise classes, or manipulation followed by exercise (“combined treatment”) to “best care” in general practice for patients consulting with low back pain.
Design Stochastic cost utility analysis alongside pragmatic randomised trial with factorial design.
Setting 181 general practices and 63 community settings for physical treatments around 14 centres across the United Kingdom.
Participants 1287 (96%) of 1334 trial participants.
Main outcome measures Healthcare costs, quality adjusted life years (QALYs), and cost per QALY over 12 months.
Results Over one year, mean treatment costs relative to “best care” were £195 ($360; €279; 95% credibility interval £85 to £308) for manipulation, £140 (£3 to £278) for exercise, and £125 (£21 to £228) for combined treatment. All three active treatments increased participants' average QALYs compared with best care alone. Each extra QALY that combined treatment yielded relative to best care cost £3800; in economic terms it had an “incremental cost effectiveness ratio” of £3800. Manipulation alone had a ratio of £8700 relative to combined treatment. If the NHS was prepared to pay at least £10 000 for each extra QALY (lower than previous recommendations in the United Kingdom), manipulation alone would probably be the best strategy. If manipulation was not available, exercise would have an incremental cost effectiveness ratio of £8300 relative to best care.
Conclusions Spinal manipulation is a cost effective addition to “best care” for back pain in general practice. Manipulation alone probably gives better value for money than manipulation followed by exercise.
PMCID: PMC535455  PMID: 15556954
5.  Improvement in Automatic Postural Coordination Following Alexander Technique Lessons in a Person With Low Back Pain 
Physical therapy  2005;85(6):565-578.
Background and Purpose
The relationship between abnormal postural coordination and back pain is unclear. The Alexander Technique (AT) aims to improve postural coordination by using conscious processes to alter automatic postural coordination and ongoing muscular activity, and it has been reported to reduce low back pain. This case report describes the use of the AT with a client with low back pain and the observed changes in automatic postural responses and back pain.
Case Description
The client was a 49-year-old woman with a 25-year history of left-sided, idiopathic, lumbrosacral back pain. Automatic postural coordination was measured using a force plate during horizontal platform translations and one-legged standing.
The client was tested monthly for 4 months before AT lessons and for 3 months after lessons. Before lessons, she consistently had laterally asymmetric automatic postural responses to translations. After AT lessons, the magnitude and asymmetry of her responses and balance improved and her low back pain decreased.
Further research is warranted to study whether AT lessons improve low back pain–associated abnormalities in automatic postural coordination and whether improving automatic postural coordination helps to reduce low back pain. [Cacciatore TW, Horak FB, Henry SM. Improvement in automatic postural coordination following Alexander Technique lessons in a person with low back pain.
PMCID: PMC1351283  PMID: 15921477
Back pain; Balance; Motor control; Motor learning; Posture
6.  Cost-effectiveness of postural exercise therapy versus physiotherapy in computer screen-workers with early non-specific work-related upper limb disorders (WRULD); a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2009;10:103.
Exercise therapies generate substantial costs in computer workers with non-specific work-related upper limb disorders (WRULD).
To study if postural exercise therapy is cost-effective compared to regular physiotherapy in screen-workers with early complaints, both from health care and societal perspective.
Prospective randomized trial including cost-effectiveness analysis; one year follow-up. Participants: Eighty-eight screen-workers with early non-specific WRULD; six drop-outs. Interventions: A ten week postural exercise program versus regular physiotherapy. Outcome measures: Effectiveness measures: Pain: visual analogous scale (VAS), self-perceived WRULD (yes/no). Functional outcome: Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder and Hand- Dutch Language Version (DASH-DLV). Quality of life outcome: EQ-5D.
Economic measures: health care costs including patient and family costs and productivity costs resulting in societal costs. Cost-effectiveness measures: health care costs and societal costs related to the effectiveness measures. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline; three, six and twelve months after baseline.
At baseline both groups were comparable for baseline characteristics except scores on the Pain Catastrophizing Scale and comparable for costs. No significant differences between the groups concerning effectiveness at one year follow-up were found. Effectiveness scores slightly improved over time. After one year 55% of participants were free of complaints. After one year the postural exercise group had higher mean total health care costs, but lower productivity costs compared to the physiotherapy group. Mean societal costs after one year (therefore) were in favor of postural exercise therapy [- €622; 95% CI -2087; +590)]. After one year, only self- perceived WRULD seemed to result in acceptable cost-effectiveness of the postural exercise strategy over physiotherapy; however the probability of acceptable cost-effectiveness did not exceed 60%.
Considering societal costs related to QALYs, postural exercise therapy had a probability of over 80% to be cost-effective over a wide range of cost-effectiveness ceiling ratios; however based on a marginal QALY-difference of 0.1 over a 12 month time frame.
Although our trial failed to find significant differences in VAS, QALYs and ICERs based on VAS and QALYs at one-year follow-up, CEACs suggest that postural exercise therapy according to Mensendieck/Cesar has a higher probability of being cost-effective compared to regular physiotherapy; however further research is required.
Trial registration
ISRCTN 15872455
PMCID: PMC2785778  PMID: 19922603
7.  Cryptococcal Meningitis Treatment Strategies in Resource-Limited Settings: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001316.
David Boulware and colleagues assess the cost effectiveness of different treatment strategies in low- and middle-income countries for cryptococcal meningitis, one of the most common opportunistic infections of people with HIV.
Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) is the most common form of meningitis in Africa. World Health Organization guidelines recommend 14-d amphotericin-based induction therapy; however, this is impractical for many resource-limited settings due to cost and intensive monitoring needs. A cost-effectiveness analysis was performed to guide stakeholders with respect to optimal CM treatment within resource limitations.
Methods and Findings:
We conducted a decision analysis to estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of six CM induction regimens: fluconazole (800–1,200 mg/d) monotherapy, fluconazole + flucytosine (5FC), short-course amphotericin (7-d) + fluconazole, 14-d of amphotericin alone, amphotericin + fluconazole, and amphotericin + 5FC. We computed actual 2012 healthcare costs in Uganda for medications, supplies, and personnel, and average laboratory costs for three African countries. A systematic review of cryptococcal treatment trials in resource-limited areas summarized 10-wk survival outcomes. We modeled one-year survival based on South African, Ugandan, and Thai CM outcome data, and survival beyond one-year on Ugandan and Thai data. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were determined and used to calculate the cost-effectiveness ratio and ICER. The cost of hospital care ranged from $154 for fluconazole monotherapy to $467 for 14 d of amphotericin + 5FC. Based on 18 studies investigating outcomes for HIV-infected individuals with CM in resource-limited settings, the estimated mean one-year survival was lowest for fluconazole monotherapy, at 40%. The cost-effectiveness ratio ranged from $20 to $44 per QALY. Overall, amphotericin-based regimens had higher costs but better survival. Short-course amphotericin (1 mg/kg/d for 7 d) with fluconazole (1,200 mg/d for14 d) had the best one-year survival (66%) and the most favorable cost-effectiveness ratio, at $20.24/QALY, with an ICER of $15.11 per additional QALY over fluconazole monotherapy. The main limitation of this study is the pooled nature of a systematic review, with a paucity of outcome data with direct comparisons between regimens.
Short-course (7-d) amphotericin induction therapy coupled with high-dose (1,200 mg/d) fluconazole is “very cost effective” per World Health Organization criteria and may be a worthy investment for policy-makers seeking cost-effective clinical outcomes. More head-to-head clinical trials are needed on treatments for this neglected tropical disease.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Cryptococcal meningitis, a fungal infection of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, affects about a million people every year (most of them living in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia) and kills about 640,000 people annually. People become infected with Cryptococcus neoformans, the fungus that causes cryptococcal meningitis and which is found in soil and dirt, by breathing it in. In healthy individuals, infection rarely causes disease. But in people living with AIDS, whose immune system has been damaged by HIV infection, and in people whose immune system is compromised for other reasons, the fungus can invade and damage many organs, including the brain. Cryptococcal meningitis, the symptoms of which include fever, stiff neck, headache, and vomiting, is diagnosed by looking for the fungus in fluid taken from the spinal cord in a procedure called a lumbar puncture. Cryptococcal meningitis is treated with antifungal drugs such as amphotericin, fluconazole, and flucytosine (induction therapy); recurrence of the infection is prevented by taking fluconazole daily for life or until the immune system recovers.
Why Was This Study Done?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a 14-day regimen of intravenous (injected) amphotericin and oral flucytosine or fluconazole for induction therapy of cryptococcal meningitis. Unfortunately, this regimen is impractical in many resource-limited settings because of the cost of the drugs and hospital care and the need for intensive monitoring—amphotericin is extremely toxic. Consequently, high-dose fluconazole monotherapy is the usual treatment for cryptococcal meningitis in resource-limited countries, although this regimen is much less effective. Another regimen that has improved survival in trials is flucytosine with fluconazole for two weeks. However, flucytosine is very expensive and is not licensed in most sub-Saharan African countries. Stakeholders in developing countries badly need guidance, therefore, on which induction treatment for cryptococcal meningitis they should recommend to optimize outcomes in their particular countries. In this cost-effectiveness analysis (a study that compares the costs and health effects of different interventions), the researchers use costs in Uganda to estimate the survival, cost, and cost per benefit associated with various induction treatments for cryptococcal meningitis in HIV-infected patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers calculated the overall cost of six induction treatments using 2012 healthcare costs in Uganda for medications, supplies, and hospital care, and average laboratory costs for monitoring treatment from three African countries. They used data from published trials of cryptococcal meningitis treatment in resource-limited areas to estimate ten-week and one-year survival, life expectancy, and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs, the number of years of life added by an intervention, adjusted for the quality of life) for each intervention. Finally, they calculated the cost-effectiveness ratio (cost per QALY gained) and the incremental cost effectiveness ratio (ICER, the additional cost of a treatment strategy compared to fluconazole monotherapy divided by the incremental improvement in QALYs) for each intervention. The estimated costs per person for each induction treatment strategy ranged from US$154 for 14 days of fluconazole monotherapy to US$467 for 14 days of amphotericin plus flucytosine. Estimated average one-year survival was lowest for fluconazole (40%) and highest for short-course (seven days) amphotericin plus 14 days of fluconazole (66%), similar to other amphotericin-based treatments. Cost-effectiveness ratios ranged from US$20 per QALY for short-course amphotericin plus fluconazole to US$44 per QALY for 14 days of amphotericin plus flucytosine. Short-course amphotericin plus fluconazole had the lowest ICER (US$15.11 per additional QALY over fluconazole monotherapy).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, among the treatments investigated, a seven-day course of amphotericin with high-dose fluconazole for at least two weeks is the most cost-effective induction treatment for cryptococcal meningitis in Uganda. Although this result should be generalizable to other African countries, it needs to be treated with caution because very few trials have actually looked at the clinical effectiveness of this particular regimen. While short short-course amphotericin appears to be substantially more effective than fluconazole monotherapy, large-scale trials comparing short-course amphotericin regimens with more traditional 14-day regimens in resource-limited countries must be undertaken before short-course amphotericin-based treatments are adopted. Notably, however, if these trials confirm that survival with short-course amphotericin with fluconazole is about 30% better than with fluconazole alone, the researchers calculate that moving to short-course amphotericin could save about 150,000 lives every year in sub-Saharan Africa at a cost of US$220 per life saved.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Andrew Farlow provides a clearinghouse for updated guidelines for cryptococcal diagnosis and treatment.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on Cryptococcus neoformans and a training manual called the Cryptococcal Screening Program Training Manual for Healthcare Providers
NAM/aidsmap provides information about all aspects of infection with Cryptococcus neoformans, including a personal story about cryptococcal meningitis
AIDS InfoNet has a fact sheet on cryptococcal meningitis (in several languages)
The not-for-profit organization Project Inform, which provides information, inspiration, and advocacy for people with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C (in English and Spanish), has a fact sheet on cryptococcal meningitis
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on cryptococcal meningitis (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3463510  PMID: 23055838
8.  Cost effectiveness of diagnostic strategies for patients with acute, undifferentiated chest pain 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2003;20(5):429-433.
Objectives: Patients presenting to hospital with acute, undifferentiated chest pain have a low, but important, risk of significant myocardial ischaemia. Potential diagnostic strategies for patients with acute, undifferentiated chest pain vary from low cost, poor effectiveness (discharging all home) to high cost, high effectiveness (admission and intensive investigation). This paper aimed to estimate the relative cost effectiveness of these strategies.
Methods: Decision analysis modelling was used to measure the incremental cost per quality adjusted year of life (QALY) gained for five potential strategies to diagnose acute undifferentiated chest pain, compared with the next most effective strategy, or a baseline strategy of discharging all patients home without further testing.
Results: Cardiac enzyme testing alone costs £17 432/QALY compared with discharge without testing. Adding two to six hours of observation and repeat enzyme testing costs an additional £18 567/QALY. Adding exercise testing to this strategy costs £28 553/QALY. A strategy of overnight admission, enzyme, and exercise testing has an incremental cost of £120 369/QALY, while a strategy consisting of overnight admission without exercise testing is subject to extended dominance. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the results are sensitive to variations in the direct costs of running each strategy and to variation in assumptions regarding the effect of diagnostic testing upon quality of life of those with non-cardiac disease.
Conclusion: Observation based strategies incur similar costs per QALY to presently funded interventions for coronary heart disease, while strategies requiring hospital admission may be prohibitively poor value for money. Validation of the true costs and effects of observation based strategies is essential before widespread implementation.
PMCID: PMC1726206  PMID: 12954681
9.  Economic Appraisal of Ontario's Universal Influenza Immunization Program: A Cost-Utility Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(4):e1000256.
Beate Sander and colleagues assess the cost-effectiveness of the program that provides free seasonal influenza vaccines to the entire population of Ontario, Canada.
In July 2000, the province of Ontario, Canada, initiated a universal influenza immunization program (UIIP) to provide free seasonal influenza vaccines for the entire population. This is the first large-scale program of its kind worldwide. The objective of this study was to conduct an economic appraisal of Ontario's UIIP compared to a targeted influenza immunization program (TIIP).
Methods and Findings
A cost-utility analysis using Ontario health administrative data was performed. The study was informed by a companion ecological study comparing physician visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths between 1997 and 2004 in Ontario and nine other Canadian provinces offering targeted immunization programs. The relative change estimates from pre-2000 to post-2000 as observed in other provinces were applied to pre-UIIP Ontario event rates to calculate the expected number of events had Ontario continued to offer targeted immunization. Main outcome measures were quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), costs in 2006 Canadian dollars, and incremental cost-utility ratios (incremental cost per QALY gained). Program and other costs were drawn from Ontario sources. Utility weights were obtained from the literature. The incremental cost of the program per QALY gained was calculated from the health care payer perspective. Ontario's UIIP costs approximately twice as much as a targeted program but reduces influenza cases by 61% and mortality by 28%, saving an estimated 1,134 QALYs per season overall. Reducing influenza cases decreases health care services cost by 52%. Most cost savings can be attributed to hospitalizations avoided. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio is Can$10,797/QALY gained. Results are most sensitive to immunization cost and number of deaths averted.
Universal immunization against seasonal influenza was estimated to be an economically attractive intervention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Annual outbreaks (epidemics) of influenza—a viral disease of the nose, throat, and airways—make millions of people ill and kill about 500,000 individuals every year. In doing so, they impose a considerable economic burden on society in terms of health care costs and lost productivity. Influenza epidemics occur because small but frequent changes in the viral proteins to which the immune system responds mean that an immune response produced one year by exposure to an influenza virus provides only partial protection against influenza the next year. Annual immunization with a vaccine that contains killed influenza viruses of the major circulating strains can boost this natural immunity and greatly reduce a person's chances of catching influenza. Consequently, many countries run seasonal influenza vaccine programs. These programs usually target people at high risk of complications from influenza and individuals likely to come into close contact with them, and people who provide essential community services. So, for example, in most Canadian provinces, targeted influenza immunization programs (TIIPs) offer free influenza vaccinations to people aged 65 years or older, to people with chronic medical conditions, and to health care workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some experts argue, however, that universal vaccination might provide populations with better protection from influenza. In 2000, the province of Ontario in Canada decided, therefore, to introduce a universal influenza immunization program (UIIP) to provide free influenza vaccination to everyone older than 6 months, the first large program of this kind in the world. A study published in 2008 showed that, following the introduction of the UIIP, vaccination rates in Ontario increased more than in other Canadian provinces. In addition, deaths from influenza and influenza-related use of health care facilities decreased more in Ontario than in provinces that continued to offer a TIIP. But is universal influenza vaccination good value for money? In this study, the researchers evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the Ontario UIIP by comparing the health outcomes and costs associated with its introduction with the health outcomes and costs associated with a hypothetical continuation of targeted influenza immunization.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data on TIIP and UIIP vaccine uptake, physician visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations for influenza, and deaths from influenza between 1997 and 2004 in Ontario and in nine Canadian states offering TIIPs, and Ontario cost data, in their “cost-utility” analysis. This type of analysis estimates the additional cost required to generate a year of perfect health (a quality-adjusted life-year or QALY) through the introduction of an intervention. QALYs are calculated by multiplying the time spent in a certain health state by a measure of the quality of that health state. The researchers report that the cost of Ontario's UIIP was about twice as much as the cost of a TIIP for the province. However, the introduction of the UIIP reduced the number of influenza cases by nearly two-thirds and reduced deaths from influenza by more than a quarter compared with what would have been expected had the province continued to offer a TIIP, an overall saving of 1,134 QALYs. Furthermore, the reduction in influenza cases halved influenza-related health care costs, mainly because of reductions in hospitalization. Overall, this means that the additional cost to Ontario of saving one QALY through the introduction of the UIIP was Can$10,797, an “incremental cost-effectiveness ratio” of $10,797 per QALY gained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
In Canada, an intervention is considered cost-effective from the point of view of a health care purchaser if it costs less than Canadian $50,000 to gain one QALY. These findings indicate, therefore, that for Ontario the introduction of the UIIP is economically attractive. Indeed, the researchers calculate that even if the costs of the UIIP were to double, the additional cost of saving one QALY by introducing universal immunization would remain below $50,000. Other “sensitivity” analyses undertaken by the researchers also indicate that universal immunization is likely to be effective and cost-effective in Ontario if other key assumptions and/or data included in the calculations are varied within reasonable limits. Given these findings, the researchers suggest that a UIIP might be an appealing intervention in other Canadian provinces and in other high-income countries where influenza transmission and health-care costs are broadly similar to those in Ontario.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
A PLoS Medicine Research Article by Kwong and colleagues describes how the introduction of universal influenza immunization in Ontario altered influenza-related health care use and deaths in the province
Wikipedia pages are available on QALYs and on cost-utility analysis (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Bandolier, an independent online journal about evidence-based health-care, provides information about QALYs and their use in cost-utility analysis
The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has a webpage on Measuring effectiveness and cost-effectiveness: the QALY
PMCID: PMC2850382  PMID: 20386727
10.  Lifestyle interventions for knee pain in overweight and obese adults aged ≥45: economic evaluation of randomised controlled trial 
Objective To estimate the cost effectiveness of four different lifestyle interventions for knee pain.
Design Cost utility analysis of randomised controlled trial.
Setting Five general practices in the United Kingdom.
Participants 389 adults aged ≥45 with self reported knee pain and body mass index (BMI) ≥28.
Interventions Dietary intervention plus quadriceps strengthening exercises, dietary intervention, quadriceps strengthening exercises, and leaflet provision. Participants received home visits over a two year period.
Main outcome measure Incremental cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained over two years from a health service perspective.
Results Advice leaflet was associated with a mean change in cost of −£31, and a mean QALY gain of 0.085. Both strengthening exercises and dietary intervention were more effective (0.090 and 0.133 mean QALY gain, respectively) but were not cost effective. Dietary intervention plus strengthening exercises had a mean cost of £647 and a mean QALY gain of 0.147 and was estimated to have an incremental cost of £10 469 per QALY gain (relative to leaflet provision), and a 23.1% probability of being cost effective at a £20 000/QALY threshold.
Conclusion Dietary intervention plus strengthening exercises was estimated to be cost effective for individuals with knee pain, but with a large level of uncertainty.
Trial registration ISRCTN93206785.
PMCID: PMC2728802  PMID: 19690341
11.  A cost-utility analysis of transcatheter aortic valve implantation in Belgium: focusing on a well-defined and identifiable population 
BMJ Open  2012;2(3):e001032.
Patients with severe aortic stenosis and coexisting non-cardiac conditions may be at high risk for surgical replacement of the aortic valve or even be no candidates for surgery. In these patients, transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is suggested as an alternative. Results of the PARTNER (Placement of AoRTic TraNscathetER Valve) trial comparing the clinical effectiveness of TAVI with surgical valve replacement and standard therapy were published. The authors assessed the cost-effectiveness of TAVI in Belgium.
A Markov model of incremental costs, effects (survival and quality of life) and incremental cost-effectiveness of TAVI was developed. The impact on survival, number of events and quality of life was based on the PARTNER trial. Costs per event were context specific.
In high-risk operable patients, even if the minor differences in 30-day and 1-year mortality are taken into account, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) remains on average above €750 000 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained (incremental cost: €20 400; incremental effect: 0.03 QALYs). In inoperable patients, an ICER of €44 900 per QALY (incremental cost: €33 200; incremental effect: 0.74 QALYs) is calculated, including a life-long extrapolation of the mortality benefit. This result was sensitive to the assumed time horizon. The subgroup of anatomically inoperable patients had better outcomes than medically inoperable patients, with ICERs decreasing more than €10 000/QALY.
It is inappropriate to consider reimbursement of TAVI for high-risk operable patients. Reimbursing TAVI in inoperable patients in essence is a political decision. From an economic perspective, it would be prudent to first target patients that are inoperable because of anatomical prohibitive conditions. In the search for evidence, the authors identified non-published negative results from a randomised controlled TAVI trial. The study sponsor should be more willing to share this information to allow balanced evaluations and policy recommendations. Payers should require these data before taking reimbursement decisions.
Article summary
Article focus
To assess the cost-effectiveness of transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) for Belgian patients.
Key messages
In high-risk operable patients, surgical aortic valve replacement and TAVI are associated with similar mortality rates at 1 year. However, there is a twice as high rate of stroke after TAVI. From an economic point of view, the less invasive nature of the TAVI procedure does not weigh against the extra costs of about €20 000 per patient.
In inoperable patients, TAVI significantly reduces the rate of death from any cause as compared with a non-surgical approach. The ICER is about €45 000 per QALY gained. Nevertheless, a distinction should be made between inoperability for anatomic versus medical reasons. TAVI offers more value for money in the former patient group with ICERs decreasing more than €10 000 per QALY.
If policy makers are willing/able to pay the relative high price for TAVI, it is advised to focus in the first place on the anatomic inoperable patients.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Hospital billing data of 183 Belgian patients treated with the Edwards SAPIEN valve were at our disposal for cost calculations.
Next to the published pivotal PARTNER (Placement of AoRTic TraNscathetER Valve) trial, a non-published randomised controlled trial (RCT) with TAVI was identified. This Continued Access trial was performed according to the same study protocol of the pivotal PARTNER trial. The mortality outcomes of this Continued Access RCT, disfavouring TAVI, were included in our analysis.
An unbalance in patient characteristics was observed in the inoperable patients of the PARTNER trial, favouring the TAVI group. A subgroup analysis showed a greater improvement for anatomic inoperable patients versus those inoperable for medical reasons.
The most important limitation of our analysis is the non-availability of all relevant study outcomes, especially for the negative non-published Continued Access RCT. The study sponsor should be willing to reveal this information in due time. Payers should require access to these non-published data before deciding on reimbursement.
PMCID: PMC3358616  PMID: 22561354
12.  The economic benefit of hip replacement: a 5-year follow-up of costs and outcomes in the Exeter Primary Outcomes Study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(3):e000752.
To assess changes in quality of life and costs of patients undergoing primary total hip replacement using the Exeter prosthesis compared with a hypothetical ‘no surgery’ group.
The incremental quality of life, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and cost of Exeter Primary Outcomes Study patients was compared with hypothetical ‘no surgery’ group over 5 years. Scores from annual SF-36 assessments were converted into utility scores using an established algorithm and the QALY gains calculated from pre-operative baseline scores. Costs included implant costs and length of stay.
Secondary care hospitals.
Patients receiving a primary Exeter implant enrolled in five of seven Exeter Primary Outcomes Study centres.
On average, patients gained around 0.8 QALYs over 5 years. Younger and male patients or those with lower body mass index and poorer Oxford Hip Scores were significantly associated with increased QALYs. Treatment costs for a primary episode of care were just over £5000 (95% CI £4588 to £5812) per patient. Compared with ‘no surgery’, the cost per QALY was £7182 (95% CI £6470 to £7678), and this remained stable when key cost parameters were varied. The most likely cost per QALY was between £7058 and £7220. Older patients (age 75+) cost more, mainly due to longer average hospital stays and had a higher cost per QALY, although this remained below £10 000.
85% of cases had a cost of <£20 000 per QALY (with 70% having a cost per QALY under £10 000) compared with no surgery. Cases would be considered cost-effective under currently accepted thresholds (£25 000–£30 000) compared with ‘no surgery’. However, depending on age and severity, younger patients and more severe patients had below average cost per QALYs. These results help to confirm the long-term benefits and cost-effectiveness of total hip replacement in a wide variety of patients using well-established implant models such as the Exeter. However, further and ongoing economic appraisal of this and other models is required for comparative purposes.
Article summary
Article focus
The cost-effectiveness of the Exeter THR compared with no treatment.
The quality of life gain and incremental number of QALYs gained and cost.
The cost per QALY by age, sex, OHS and BMI.
Key messages
There have been few good prospective economic evaluations of THR that measure quality of life, preoperative severity of disease and control for prosthesis type.
THR in EPOS patients was found to be cost-effective (compared with no treatment). Cost per QALY was below the accepted NICE threshold in all groups and under all sensitivity assumptions.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Longer term follow-up of patients is advantageous in assessing the economic benefits of THR and this study was exceptional for the length of time in which this was possible.
The hypothetical control group could provide only an indirect comparison with other interventions and prostheses but a sound new estimate of the absolute cost-effectiveness of THR.
PMCID: PMC3367151  PMID: 22637375
13.  A cost-effectiveness analysis of an in-hospital clinical pharmacist service 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000329.
A randomised controlled study performed from 2007 to 2008 showed beneficial effects of a composite clinical pharmacist service as regards a simple health status instrument. The present study aimed to evaluate if the intervention was cost-effective when evaluated in a decision-theoretic model.
A piggyback cost-effectiveness analysis from the healthcare perspective.
Two internal medicine wards at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden.
Of 345 patients (61% women; median age: 82 years; 181 control and 164 intervention patients), 240 patients (62% women, 82 years; 124 control and 116 intervention patients) had EuroQol-5 dimensions (EQ-5D) utility scores at baseline and at 6-month follow-up.
Outcome measures
Costs during a 6-month follow-up period in all patients and incremental cost-effectiveness ratio per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) in patients with EQ-5D utility scores. Inpatient and outpatient care was extracted from the VEGA database. Drug costs were extracted from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. A probabilistic analysis was performed to characterise uncertainty in the cost-effectiveness model.
No significant difference in costs between the randomisation groups was found; the mean total costs per individual±SD, intervention costs included, were €10 748±13 799 (intervention patients) and €10 344±14 728 (control patients) (p=0.79). For patients in the cost-effectiveness analysis, the corresponding costs were €10 912±13 999 and €9290±12 885. Intervention patients gained an additional 0.0051 QALYs (unadjusted) and 0.0035 QALYs (adjusted for baseline EQ-5D utility score). These figures result in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of €316 243 per unadjusted QALY and €463 371 per adjusted QALY. The probabilistic uncertainty analysis revealed that, at a willingness-to-pay of €50 000/QALY, the probability that the intervention was cost-effective was approximately 0.2.
The present study reveals that an intervention designed like this one is probably not cost-effective. The study thus illustrates that the complexity of healthcare requires thorough health economics evaluations rather than simplistic interpretation of data.
Article summary
Article focus
Clinical pharmacist services have been shown beneficial for patient health and healthcare costs, although results are inconsistent. In the present article, we present combined data on costs and health outcomes for a composite clinical pharmacist service.
Key messages
Although our composite clinical pharmacist service has previously been shown beneficial as regards a simple health status instrument, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio per QALY was high, more than €460 000 in the base case and more than €100 000 in most sensitivity analyses.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This study is the first one to provide data on costs per QALY for an in-hospital intervention aimed to improve drug treatment. An important limitation may be that the pharmacists acted like external consultants rather than an integrated part in healthcare, and further research on cost-effectiveness of pharmacist services may be called for.
PMCID: PMC3253415  PMID: 22223840
14.  The Alexander Technique and musicians: a systematic review of controlled trials 
Musculoskeletal disorders, stress and performance anxiety are common in musicians. Therefore, some use the Alexander Technique (AT), a psycho-physical method that helps to release unnecessary muscle tension and re-educates non-beneficial movement patterns through intentional inhibition of unwanted habitual behaviours. According to a recent review AT sessions may be effective for chronic back pain. This review aimed to evaluate the evidence for the effectiveness of AT sessions on musicians’ performance, anxiety, respiratory function and posture.
The following electronic databases were searched up to February 2014 for relevant publications: PUBMED, Google Scholar, CINAHL, EMBASE, AMED, PsycINFO and RILM. The search criteria were “Alexander Technique” AND “music*”. References were searched, and experts and societies of AT or musicians’ medicine contacted for further publications.
237 citations were assessed. 12 studies were included for further analysis, 5 of which were randomised controlled trials (RCTs), 5 controlled but not randomised (CTs), and 2 mixed methods studies. Main outcome measures in RCTs and CTs were music performance, respiratory function, performance anxiety, body use and posture. Music performance was judged by external experts and found to be improved by AT in 1 of 3 RCTs; in 1 RCT comparing neurofeedback (NF) to AT, only NF caused improvements. Respiratory function was investigated in 2 RCTs, but not improved by AT training. Performance anxiety was mostly assessed by questionnaires and decreased by AT in 2 of 2 RCTs and in 2 of 2 CTs.
A variety of outcome measures has been used to investigate the effectiveness of AT sessions in musicians. Evidence from RCTs and CTs suggests that AT sessions may improve performance anxiety in musicians. Effects on music performance, respiratory function and posture yet remain inconclusive. Future trials with well-established study designs are warranted to further and more reliably explore the potential of AT in the interest of musicians.
PMCID: PMC4287507  PMID: 25344325
Alexander technique; Systematic review; Musician; Performance anxiety; Posture
15.  Cost-effectiveness of a national exercise referral programme for primary care patients in Wales: results of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1021.
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.
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.
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).
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
PMCID: PMC4231449  PMID: 24164697
Public health policy; Exercise referral; Mental health; Heart disease risk factors; Cost-effectiveness
16.  Population based cost utility study of interferon beta-1b in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;319(7224):1529-1533.
To evaluate the cost utility of interferon beta-1b in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
Population based cost utility model (healthcare perspective). Data on use of health services were obtained from case records and routine morbidity data and utility values from a EuroQol survey. Local and published costs were used. Effectiveness was modelled using data on relative risk reductions from a randomised trial of interferon beta-1b.
Tayside region, 1993-5.
132 ambulatory people with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
Main outcome measures
Cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained. Rate of relapse and proportion becoming wheelchair dependent over three years.
The number needed to treat for 30 months to delay time to wheelchair dependence in one person by nine months was 18 (95% confidence interval 5 to 26). For every 18 people treated for 30 months, six relapses would be prevented, gaining 0.397 discounted QALYs. The cost per QALY gained was £1 024 667 (£276 466 to £1 485 499). If treatment was restricted to patients attending neurology services, the number needed to treat was 14 (cost per QALY gained £833 514 (£161 358 to ∞)). The cost per QALY gained was not sensitive to changes in cost which took account of a societal perspective.
The cost per QALY gained from interferon beta is high because of the high drug cost and modest clinical effect. Resources could be used more efficiently elsewhere.
Key messagesSecondary progressive multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling disorder associated with low health related quality of lifeInterferon beta-1b may reduce rate of relapseThe benefits of interferon beta-1b treatment are very low relative to its costCost utility analysis estimated a cost of over £1m per QALY gainedCost per QALY was not affected by taking into account the costs of careMoney would be better spent on other ways of improving quality of life than on interferon beta
PMCID: PMC28295  PMID: 10591710
17.  Cost-utility of an 8-month aquatic training for women with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial 
Physical therapy in warm water has been effective and highly recommended for persons with fibromyalgia, but its efficiency remains largely unknown. Should patients or health care managers invest in this therapy? The aim of the current study was to assess the cost-utility of adding an aquatic exercise programme to the usual care of women with fibromyalgia.
Costs to the health care system and to society were considered in this study that included 33 participants, randomly assigned to the experimental group (n = 17) or a control group (n = 16). The intervention in the experimental group consisted of a 1-h, supervised, water-based exercise sessions, three times per week for 8 months. The main outcome measures were the health care costs and the number of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) using the time trade-off elicitation technique from the EuroQol EQ-5D instrument. Sensitivity analyses were performed for variations in staff salary, number of women attending sessions and time spent going to the pool. The cost effectiveness acceptability curves were created using a non-parametric bootstrap technique.
The mean incremental treatment costs exceeded those for usual care per patient by € 517 for health care costs and € 1,032 for societal costs. The mean incremental QALY associated with the intervention was 0.131 (95% CI: 0.011 to 0.290). Each QALY gained in association with the exercise programme cost an additional € 3,947/QALY (95% CI: 1,782 to 47,000) for a health care perspective and € 7,878/QALY (3,559 to 93,818) from a societal perspective. The curves showed a 95% probability that the addition of the water-based programme is a cost-effective strategy if the ceiling of inversion is € 14,200/QALY from a health care perspective and € 28,300/QALY from a societal perspective.
The addition of an aquatic exercise programme to the usual care regime for fibromyalgia in women is cost effective in terms of both health care costs and societal costs. However, the characteristics of facilities (distance from the patients' homes and number of patients that can be accommodated per session) are major determinants to consider before investing in such a programme.
Trial registration
Current controlled trials ISRCTN53367487.
PMCID: PMC2374450  PMID: 18294367
18.  Adaptive Pacing, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Graded Exercise, and Specialist Medical Care for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e40808.
The PACE trial compared the effectiveness of adding adaptive pacing therapy (APT), cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), or graded exercise therapy (GET), to specialist medical care (SMC) for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. This paper reports the relative cost-effectiveness of these treatments in terms of quality adjusted life years (QALYs) and improvements in fatigue and physical function.
Resource use was measured and costs calculated. Healthcare and societal costs (healthcare plus lost production and unpaid informal care) were combined with QALYs gained, and changes in fatigue and disability; incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were computed.
SMC patients had significantly lower healthcare costs than those receiving APT, CBT and GET. If society is willing to value a QALY at £30,000 there is a 62.7% likelihood that CBT is the most cost-effective therapy, a 26.8% likelihood that GET is most cost effective, 2.6% that APT is most cost-effective and 7.9% that SMC alone is most cost-effective. Compared to SMC alone, the incremental healthcare cost per QALY was £18,374 for CBT, £23,615 for GET and £55,235 for APT. From a societal perspective CBT has a 59.5% likelihood of being the most cost-effective, GET 34.8%, APT 0.2% and SMC alone 5.5%. CBT and GET dominated SMC, while APT had a cost per QALY of £127,047. ICERs using reductions in fatigue and disability as outcomes largely mirrored these findings.
Comparing the four treatments using a health care perspective, CBT had the greatest probability of being the most cost-effective followed by GET. APT had a lower probability of being the most cost-effective option than SMC alone. The relative cost-effectiveness was even greater from a societal perspective as additional cost savings due to reduced need for informal care were likely.
PMCID: PMC3411573  PMID: 22870204
19.  Surgical stabilisation of the spine compared with a programme of intensive rehabilitation for the management of patients with chronic low back pain: cost utility analysis based on a randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;330(7502):1239.
Objective To determine whether, from a health provider and patient perspective, surgical stabilisation of the spine is cost effective when compared with an intensive programme of rehabilitation in patients with chronic low back pain.
Design Economic evaluation alongside a pragmatic randomised controlled trial.
Setting Secondary care.
Participants 349 patients randomised to surgery (n = 176) or to an intensive rehabilitation programme (n = 173) from 15 centres across the United Kingdom between June 1996 and February 2002.
Main outcome measures Costs related to back pain and incurred by the NHS and patients up to 24 months after randomisation. Return to paid employment and total hours worked. Patient utility as estimated by using the EuroQol EQ-5D questionnaire at several time points and used to calculate quality adjusted life years (QALYs). Cost effectiveness was expressed as an incremental cost per QALY.
Results At two years, 38 patients randomised to rehabilitation had received rehabilitation and surgery whereas just seven surgery patients had received both treatments. The mean total cost per patient was estimated to be £7830 (SD £5202) in the surgery group and £4526 (SD £4155) in the intensive rehabilitation arm, a significant difference of £3304 (95% confidence interval £2317 to £4291). Mean QALYs over the trial period were 1.004 (SD 0.405) in the surgery group and 0.936 (SD 0.431) in the intensive rehabilitation group, giving a non-significant difference of 0.068 (–0.020 to 0.156). The incremental cost effectiveness ratio was estimated to be £48 588 per QALY gained (–£279 883 to £372 406).
Conclusion Two year follow-up data show that surgical stabilisation of the spine may not be a cost effective use of scarce healthcare resources. However, sensitivity analyses show that this could change—for example, if the proportion of rehabilitation patients requiring subsequent surgery continues to increase.
PMCID: PMC558091  PMID: 15911536
20.  The cost-effectiveness of a theory-based online health behaviour intervention for new university students: an economic evaluation 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1011.
Too many young people engage in unhealthy behaviours such as eating unhealthily, being physically inactive, binge drinking and smoking. This study aimed to estimate the short-term and long-term cost-effectiveness of a theory-based online health behaviour intervention (“U@Uni”) in comparison with control in young people starting university.
A costing analysis was conducted to estimate the full cost of U@Uni and the cost of U@Uni roll-out. The short-term cost-effectiveness of U@Uni was estimated using statistical analysis of 6-month cost and health-related quality of life data from the U@Uni randomised controlled trial. An economic modelling analysis combined evidence from the trial with published evidence of the effect of health behaviours on mortality risk and general population data on health behaviours, to estimate the lifetime cost-effectiveness of U@Uni in terms of incremental cost per QALY. Costs and effects were discounted at 1.5% per annum. A full probabilistic sensitivity analysis was conducted to account for uncertainty in model inputs and provide an estimate of the value of information for groups of important parameters.
To implement U@Uni for the randomised controlled trial was estimated to cost £292 per participant, whereas roll-out to another university was estimated to cost £19.71, both giving a QALY gain of 0.0128 per participant. The short-term (6-month) analysis suggested that U@Uni would not be cost-effective at a willingness-to-pay threshold of £20,000 per QALY (incremental cost per QALY gained = £243,926). When a lifetime horizon was adopted the results suggest that the full implementation of U@Uni is unlikely to be cost-effective, whereas the roll-out of U@Uni to another university is extremely likely to be cost-effective. The value of information analysis suggests that the most important drivers of decision uncertainty are uncertainties in the effect of U@Uni on health behaviours.
The study provides the first estimate of the costs and cost-effectiveness of an online health behaviour intervention targeted at new university students. The results suggest that the roll-out, but not the full implementation, of U@Uni would be a cost-effective decision for the UK Department of Health, given a lifetime perspective and a willingness-to pay threshold of £20,000 per QALY.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN67684181.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1011) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4195974  PMID: 25262372
Alcohol; Fruit and vegetables; Exercise; Smoking; Health behaviour; Cost-effectiveness; Economic evaluation; Economic model; Young people; Students; University; Costs
21.  A cost-effectiveness analysis of a preventive exercise program for patients with advanced head and neck cancer treated with concomitant chemo-radiotherapy 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:475.
Concomitant chemo-radiotherapy (CCRT) has become an indispensable organ, but not always function preserving treatment modality for advanced head and neck cancer. To prevent/limit the functional side effects of CCRT, special exercise programs are increasingly explored. This study presents cost-effectiveness analyses of a preventive (swallowing) exercise program (PREP) compared to usual care (UC) from a health care perspective.
A Markov decision model of PREP versus UC was developed for CCRT in advanced head and neck cancer. Main outcome variables were tube dependency at one-year and number of post-CCRT hospital admission days. Primary outcome was costs per quality adjusted life years (cost/QALY), with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) as outcome parameter. The Expected Value of Perfect Information (EVPI) was calculated to obtain the value of further research.
PREP resulted in less tube dependency (3% and 25%, respectively), and in fewer hospital admission days than UC (3.2 and 4.5 days respectively). Total costs for UC amounted to €41,986 and for PREP to €42,271. Quality adjusted life years for UC amounted to 0.68 and for PREP to 0.77. Based on costs per QALY, PREP has a higher probability of being cost-effective as long as the willingness to pay threshold for 1 additional QALY is at least €3,200/QALY. At the prevailing threshold of €20,000/QALY the probability for PREP being cost-effective compared to UC was 83%. The EVPI demonstrated potential value in undertaking additional research to reduce the existing decision uncertainty.
Based on current evidence, PREP for CCRT in advanced head and neck cancer has the higher probability of being cost-effective when compared to UC. Moreover, the majority of sensitivity analyses produced ICERs that are well below the prevailing willingness to pay threshold for an additional QALY (range from dominance till €45,906/QALY).
PMCID: PMC3237585  PMID: 22051143
head and neck cancer; concomitant chemo-radiotherapy; cost-effectiveness; rehabilitation
22.  Economic evaluation of arthritis self management in primary care 
Objective To assess the cost effectiveness of a self management programme plus education booklet for arthritis in primary care.
Design Cost effectiveness and cost utility analysis from health and social care and societal perspectives alongside a randomised controlled trial.
Setting 74 general practices in the United Kingdom.
Participants 812 patients aged 50 or more with osteoarthritis of the hips or knees, or both, and pain or disability, or both.
Interventions Randomisation to either six sessions of an arthritis self management programme plus an education booklet (intervention group) or the education booklet alone (standard care control group).
Main outcome measures Total health and social care costs and total societal costs at 12 months; cost effectiveness (incremental cost effectiveness ratios and cost effectiveness acceptability curves) on basis of quality of life (SF-36, primary outcome measure), EuroQol visual analogue scale, and quality adjusted life years (QALYs).
Results At 12 months health and social care costs in the intervention group were £101 higher (95% confidence interval £3 to £176) than those in the control group because the additional costs of the arthritis self management programme did not seem to be fully offset by savings elsewhere. There were no significant differences in societal costs (which were up to 13 times the size of health and social care costs) or any of the outcomes. From the health and social care perspective the intervention was dominated by the control on the basis of QALYs (which were non-significantly lower in the intervention group) and had incremental cost effectiveness ratios between £279 and £13 473 for the other outcomes. From the societal perspective the intervention seemed superior to the control owing to non-significantly lower costs and non-significantly better outcomes on all measures except QALYs. Probabilities of the arthritis self management programme’s cost effectiveness ranged between 12% and 97% (for thresholds ranging £0 to £1000) based on one point improvements in SF-36 outcomes, but the clinical significance of this is debatable. Probabilities of cost effectiveness on the basis of the visual analogue scale and QALYs were low.
Conclusions Cost effectiveness of an arthritis self management programme is not suggested on the basis of current National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence cost perspectives and QALY thresholds. The probability of cost effectiveness is greater when broader costs and other quality of life outcomes are considered. These results suggest that the cost effectiveness of the Department of Health’s expert patients programme cannot be assumed across all clinical conditions and that further rigorous evaluations for other conditions may be needed.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN79115352.
PMCID: PMC2749163  PMID: 19773329
23.  Cost effectiveness of nurse delivered endoscopy: findings from randomised multi-institution nurse endoscopy trial (MINuET) 
Objective To compare the cost effectiveness of nurses and doctors in performing upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy.
Design As part of a pragmatic randomised trial, the economic analysis calculated incremental cost effectiveness ratios, and generated cost effectiveness acceptability curves to address uncertainty.
Setting 23 hospitals in the United Kingdom.
Participants 67 doctors and 30 nurses, with a total of 1888 patients, from July 2002 to June 2003.
Intervention Diagnostic upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy carried out by doctors or nurses.
Main outcome measure Estimated health gains in QALYs measured with EQ-5D. Probability of cost effectiveness over a range of decision makers’ willingness to pay for an additional quality adjusted life year (QALY).
Results Although differences did not reach traditional levels of significance, patients in the doctor group gained 0.015 QALYs more than those in the nurse group, at an increased cost of about £56 (€59, $78) per patient. This yields an incremental cost effectiveness ratio of £3660 (€3876, $5097) per QALY. Though there is uncertainty around these results, doctors are probably more cost effective than nurses for plausible values of a QALY.
Conclusions Though upper gastrointestinal endoscopies and flexible sigmoidoscopies carried out by doctors cost slightly more than those by nurses and improved health outcomes only slightly, our analysis favours endoscopies by doctors. For plausible values of decision makers’ willingness to pay for an extra QALY, endoscopy delivered by nurses is unlikely to be cost effective compared with endoscopy delivered by doctors.
Trial registration International standard RCT 82765705
PMCID: PMC2643438  PMID: 19208715
24.  A randomised controlled trial of acupuncture care for persistent low back pain: cost effectiveness analysis 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;333(7569):626.
Objective To evaluate the cost effectiveness of acupuncture in the management of persistent non-specific low back pain.
Design Cost effectiveness analysis of a randomised controlled trial.
Setting Three private acupuncture clinics and 18 general practices in York, England.
Participants 241 adults aged 18-65 with non-specific low back pain of 4-52 weeks' duration.
Interventions Ten individualised acupuncture treatments over three months from acupuncturists trained in traditional Chinese medicine (n = 160) or usual care only (n = 81).
Main outcome measure Incremental cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained over two years.
Results Total costs to the United Kingdom's health service during the two year study period were higher on average for the acupuncture group (£460; €673; $859) than for the usual care group (£345) because of the costs associated with initial treatment. The mean incremental health gain from acupuncture at 12 months was 0.012 QALYs (95% confidence interval -0.033 to 0.058) and at 24 months was 0.027 QALYs (-0.056 to 0.110), leading to a base case estimate of £4241 per QALY gained. This result was robust to sensitivity analysis. The probabilistic sensitivity analysis showed acupuncture to have a more than 90% chance of being cost effective at a £20 000 cost per QALY threshold.
Conclusion A short course of traditional acupuncture for persistent non-specific low back pain in primary care confers a modest health benefit for minor extra cost to the NHS compared with usual care. Acupuncture care for low back pain seems to be cost effective in the longer term.
Trial registration ISRCTN80764175.
PMCID: PMC1570795  PMID: 16980315
25.  Cost effectiveness of an outpatient multidisciplinary pulmonary rehabilitation programme 
Thorax  2001;56(10):779-784.
BACKGROUND—Pulmonary rehabilitation programmes improve the health of patients disabled by lung disease but their cost effectiveness is unproved. We undertook a cost/utility analysis in conjunction with a randomised controlled clinical trial of pulmonary rehabilitation versus standard care.
METHODS—Two hundred patients, mainly with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, were randomly assigned to either an 18 visit, 6 week rehabilitation programme or standard medical management. The difference between the mean cost of 12 months of care for patients in the rehabilitation and control groups (incremental cost) and the difference between the two groups in quality adjusted life years (QALYs) gained (incremental utility) were determined. The ratio between incremental cost and utility (incremental cost/utility ratio) was calculated.
RESULTS—Each rehabilitation programme for up to 20 patients cost £12 120. The mean incremental cost of adding rehabilitation to standard care was £ -152 (95% CI -881 to 577) per patient, p=NS. The incremental utility of adding rehabilitation was 0.030 (95% CI 0.002 to 0.058) QALYs per patient, p=0.03. The point estimate of the incremental cost/utility ratio was therefore negative. The bootstrapping technique was used to model the distribution of cost/utility estimates possible from the data. A high likelihood of generating QALYs at negative or relatively low cost was indicated. The probability of the cost per QALY generated being below £0 was 0.64.
CONCLUSIONS—This outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation programme produces cost per QALY ratios within bounds considered to be cost effective and is likely to result in financial benefits to the health service.

PMCID: PMC1745931  PMID: 11562517

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