Assessing cost-effectiveness in obesity (ACE-Obesity) : an overview of the ACE approach, economic methods and cost results
Carter, Rob, Moodie, Marj, Markwick, Alison, Magnus, Anne, Vos, Theo, Swinburn, Boyd and Haby, Michelle M. 2009, Assessing cost-effectiveness in obesity (ACE-Obesity) : an overview of the ACE approach, economic methods and cost results, BMC public health, vol. 9, no. 419, pp. 1-24.
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Background : The aim of the ACE-Obesity study was to determine the economic credentials of interventions which aim to prevent unhealthy weight gain in children and adolescents. We have reported elsewhere on the modelled effectiveness of 13 obesity prevention interventions in children. In this paper, we report on the cost results and associated methods together with the innovative approach to priority setting that underpins the ACE-Obesity study.
Methods : The Assessing Cost-Effectiveness (ACE) approach combines technical rigour with 'due process' to facilitate evidence-based policy analysis. Technical rigour was achieved through use of standardised evaluation methods, a research team that assembles best available evidence and extensive uncertainty analysis. Cost estimates were based on pathway analysis, with resource usage estimated for the interventions and their 'current practice' comparator, as well as associated cost offsets. Due process was achieved through involvement of stakeholders, consensus decisions informed by briefing papers and 2nd stage filter analysis that captures broader factors that influence policy judgements in addition to cost-effectiveness results. The 2nd stage filters agreed by stakeholders were 'equity', 'strength of the evidence', 'feasibility of implementation', 'acceptability to stakeholders', 'sustainability' and 'potential for side-effects'. Results : The intervention costs varied considerably, both in absolute terms (from cost saving [6 interventions] to in excess of AUD50m per annum) and when expressed as a 'cost per child' estimate (from <AUD1.0 [reduction of TV advertising of high fat foods/high sugar drinks] to >AUD31,000 [laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding for morbidly obese adolescents]). High costs per child reflected cost structure, target population and/or under-utilisation.
Conclusions : The use of consistent methods enables valid comparison of potential intervention costs and cost-offsets for each of the interventions. ACE-Obesity informs policy-makers about cost-effectiveness, health impact, affordability and 2nd stage filters for important options for preventing unhealthy weight gain in children. In related articles cost-effectiveness results and second stage filter considerations for each intervention assessed will be presented and analysed.
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