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Open Access Research

Heterogeneity in cost-effectiveness of lifestyle counseling for metabolic syndrome risk groups -primary care patients in Sweden

Inna Feldman12*, Lennart Hellström3 and Pia Johansson4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

2 Community Medicine, Uppsala County Council, Uppsala, Sweden

3 Center of Public Health and health promotion, Kalmar County Council, Kalmar, Sweden

4 Health economics, informatics and healthcare research, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden

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Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation 2013, 11:19  doi:10.1186/1478-7547-11-19

Published: 28 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Clinical trials have indicated that lifestyle interventions for patients with lifestyle-related cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors (the metabolic syndrome) are cost-effective. However, patient characteristics in primary care practice vary considerably, i.e. they exhibit heterogeneity in risk factors. The cost-effectiveness of lifestyle interventions is likely to differ over heterogeneous patient groups.

Methods

Patients (62 men, 80 women) in the Kalmar Metabolic Syndrome Program (KMSP) in primary care (Kalmar regional healthcare area, Sweden) were divided into three groups reflecting different profiles of metabolic risk factors (low, middle and high risk) and gender. A Markov model was used to predict future cardiovascular disease and diabetes, including complications (until age 85 years or death), with health effects measured as QALYs and costs from a societal perspective in Euro (EUR) 2012, discounted 3%. Simulations with risk factor levels at start and at 12 months follow-up were performed for each group, with an assumed 4-year sustainability of intervention effects.

Results

The program was estimated cost-saving for middle and high risk men, while the incremental cost vs. do-nothing varied between EUR 3,500 – 18,000 per QALY for other groups. There is heterogeneity in the cost-effectiveness over the risk groups but this does not affect the overall conclusion on the cost-effectiveness of the KMSP. Even the highest ICER (for high risk women) is considered moderately cost-effective in Sweden. The base case result was not sensitive to alternative data and methodology but considerably affected by sustainability assumptions. Alternative risk stratifications did not change the overall conclusion that KMSP is cost-effective. However, simple grouping with average risk factor levels over gender groups overestimate the cost-effectiveness.

Conclusions

Lifestyle counseling to prevent metabolic diseases is cost-effective in Swedish standard primary care settings. The use of risk stratification in the cost-effectiveness analysis established that the program was cost-effective for all patient groups, even for those with very high levels of lifestyle-related risk factors for the metabolic syndrome diseases. Heterogeneity in the cost-effectiveness of lifestyle interventions in primary care patients is expected, and should be considered in health policy decisions.

Keywords:
Cost-effectiveness; Markov model; Metabolic syndrome; Lifestyle counseling; Primary care