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1.  Insomnia - treatment pathways, costs and quality of life 
Insomnia is perhaps the most common sleep disorder in the general population, and is characterised by a range of complaints around difficulties in initiating and maintaining sleep, together with impaired waking function. There is little quantitative information on treatment pathways, costs and outcomes. The aims of this New Zealand study were to determine from which healthcare practitioners patients with insomnia sought treatment, treatment pathways followed, the net costs of treatment and the quality of life improvements obtained.
The study was retrospective and prevalence based, and was both cost effectiveness (CEA) and a cost utility (CUA) analysis. Micro costing techniques were used and a societal analytic perspective was adopted. A deterministic decision tree model was used to estimate base case values, and a stochastic version, with Monte Carlo simulation, was used to perform sensitivity analysis. A probability and cost were attached to each event which enabled the costs for the treatment pathways and average treatment cost to be calculated. The inputs to the model were prevalence, event probabilities, resource utilisations, and unit costs. Direct costs and QALYs gained were evaluated.
The total net benefit of treating a person with insomnia was $482 (the total base case cost of $145 less health costs avoided of $628). When these results were applied to the total at-risk population in New Zealand additional treatment costs incurred were $6.6 million, costs avoided $28.4 million and net benefits were $21.8 million. The incremental net benefit when insomnia was "successfully" treated was $3,072 per QALY gained.
The study has brought to light a number of problems relating to the treatment of insomnia in New Zealand. There is both inadequate access to publicly funded treatment and insufficient publicly available information from which a consumer is able to make an informed decision on the treatment and provider options. This study suggests that successful treatment of insomnia leads to direct cost savings and improved quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3152521  PMID: 21693060
2.  Consumer access to health information on the internet: health policy implications 
Providers of health care usually have much better information about health and health care interventions than do consumers. The internet is an important and rapidly evolving source of global health-related information and could provide a means of correcting for asymmetric information. However, little is known about who accesses this information and how it is used in New Zealand.
The aims of this research were to: determine the nature of the health information sought, how respondents use the information, how helpful they perceive the information to be, and the self-assessed value of such information.
The researchers conducted an anonymous five minute telephone and mall intercept survey of randomly selected Wellington residents who had searched for health-related information on the internet. Investigators entered the data into an Excel spreadsheet and transferred it to SPSS for data cleaning, data exploration and statistical analysis. Search time costs were based on the opportunity cost of income foregone and respondents were asked to provide a money value for the information found.
Eighty-three percent of respondents accessed the internet from home, and 87% conducted the search for themselves. Forty-five percent of people were looking for general health and nutrition information, 42% for data about a specific illness and 40% for a medicine.
After finding the information, 58% discussed it with a family member/ friend/ workmate, 36% consulted a general practitioner, 33% changed their eating or drinking habits, and 13% did nothing. Respondents found the information very quick to find and useful. It took them on average 0.47 hours and cost $12 (opportunity cost of time) to find the information. The average value of the data found was $60 and the net benefit to the consumer was $48 ($60 – $12).
The results of this research could assist providers of health information via the internet to tailor their websites to better suit users' needs. Given the high perceived value of internet health information (greater than the average general practitioner fee) and the fact that some of the information found may be unreliable or even unsafe a valuable public health policy initiative would be to provide an improved New Zealand health information website containing information on how to evaluate data sourced from the world-wide-web and links to a range of useful and trustworthy health information sites.
PMCID: PMC1188053  PMID: 15985172

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