Open Access Research

Cost-effectiveness of a universal strategy of brief dietary intervention for primary prevention in primary care: population-based cohort study and Markov model

Martin C Gulliford1, Nawaraj Bhattarai1*, Judith Charlton1 and Caroline Rudisill2

Author Affiliations

1 King’s College London, Department of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences, Capital House, 42 Weston St, London SE1 3QD, UK

2 Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK

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Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation 2014, 12:4  doi:10.1186/1478-7547-12-4

Published: 2 February 2014

Abstract

Background

A healthy diet is associated with reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The study aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a universal strategy to promote healthy diet through brief intervention in primary care.

Methods

The research was informed by a systematic review of randomised trials which found that brief interventions in primary care may be associated with a 0.5 portion per day increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. A Markov model that included five long-term conditions (diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, colorectal cancer and depression) was developed. Empirical data from a large cohort of United Kingdom-based participants sampled from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink populated the model. Simulations compared an intervention promoting healthy diet over 5 years in healthy adults, and standard care in which there was no intervention. The annual cost of intervention, in the base case, was one family practice consultation per participant year. Health service costs were included and the model adopted a lifetime perspective. The primary outcome was net health benefit in quality adjusted life years (QALYs).

Results

A cohort of 262,704 healthy participants entered the model. Intervention was associated with an increase in life years lived free from physical disease of 41.9 (95% confidence interval -17.4 to 101.0) per 1,000 participants entering the model (probability of increase 88.0%). New incidences of disease states were reduced by 28.4 (18.7 to 75.8) per 1,000, probability reduced 84.6%. Discounted incremental QALYs were 4.3 (-8.8 to 18.0) per 1,000, while incremental costs were £139,755 (£60,466 to 220,059) per 1,000. Net health benefits at £30,000 per QALY were -0.32 (-13.8 to 13.5) QALYs per 1,000 participants (probability cost-effective 47.9%). When the intervention was restricted to adults aged 50 to 74 years, net health benefits were 2.94 (-21.3 to 26.4) QALYs per 1000, probability increased 59.0%.

Conclusions

A universal strategy to promote healthy diet through brief intervention in primary care is unlikely to be cost-effective, even when delivered at low unit cost. A targeted strategy aimed at older individuals at higher risk of disease might be more cost-effective. More effective dietary change interventions are needed.

Keywords:
Dietary intervention; Primary care; Markov model; Cost effectiveness; Outcomes; Diabetes; Coronary heart disease; Stroke; Colorectal cancer; Depression