Physical Activity Interventions for Primary Prevention in Adults: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trial-Based Economic Evaluations
Physical inactivity is a worldwide pandemic associated with major chronic diseases. Given limited resources, policy makers are in need of physical activity interventions that provide best value for money.
To summarize evidence from RCT-based economic evaluations of primary prevention physical activity interventions in adult populations outside the workplace setting.
Systematic review of health economic evaluations. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) in US$ per MET-hour gained were estimated on the basis of mean differences in intervention costs and standardized effects between intervention and control groups.
Identification of relevant studies via systematic searches in electronic databases (MEDLINE, Embase and NHSEED).
Cost-effectiveness analyses in which all data (except unit costs) came from one RCT investigating physical activity interventions for primary prevention or health promotion in an adult population in high-income countries.
In twelve eligible studies, 22 interventions were investigated. Interventions were based on advice, goal setting and follow-up support, exercise classes, financial incentives or teaching on behavioral change. The ICER varied widely among the interventions and four interventions showed an ICER below the applied benchmark of US$0.44 to US$0.63 per MET-hour gained. These four interventions were based on individualized advice via print or web.
We found evidence from RCTs indicating cost-effectiveness of some physical activity interventions for primary prevention in adults. However, the majority of interventions assessed would not be cost-effective according to the benchmark applied. Furthermore, our study showed that trial-based evidence on cost-effectiveness of physical activity interventions is scarce. Therefore, we recommend that future studies investigating the efficacy or effectiveness of such interventions consider costs as an additional outcome and assess cost-effectiveness.
RM and MS conceived the design of the study; RM and RF screened the studies; RM and MES extracted the data; RM, MES, SW, AST, MS were involved in the data analysis; RM drafted the manuscript. All authors were involved in the interpretation of the data and commented on and edited the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.
Conflict of interest
Renato Mattli, Renato Farcher, Maria-Eleni Syleouni, Simon Wieser, Nicole Probst-Hensch, Arno Schmidt-Trucksäss and Matthias Schwenkglenks declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.
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