Economic evaluation of a skin cancer prevention program in Australia : past achievements and future prospects

Shih, Sophy Ting-Fang, Carter, Rob, Sinclair, Craig, Mihalopoulos, Catherine and Vos, Theo 2009, Economic evaluation of a skin cancer prevention program in Australia : past achievements and future prospects, in iHEA 1009 : Presentations of the 7th World Congress on Health Economics, Harmonising Health and Economics, International Health Economics Association (iHEA), [Beijing, China].

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Title Economic evaluation of a skin cancer prevention program in Australia : past achievements and future prospects
Author(s) Shih, Sophy Ting-FangORCID iD for Shih, Sophy Ting-Fang
Carter, RobORCID iD for Carter, Rob
Sinclair, Craig
Mihalopoulos, CatherineORCID iD for Mihalopoulos, Catherine
Vos, Theo
Conference name iHEA World Congress on Health Economics, Harmonising Health and Economics (7th : 2009 : Beijing, China)
Conference location Beijing, China
Conference dates 12-15 July 2009
Title of proceedings iHEA 1009 : Presentations of the 7th World Congress on Health Economics, Harmonising Health and Economics
Publication date 2009
Publisher International Health Economics Association (iHEA)
Place of publication [Beijing, China]
Summary Objectives
Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. Skin cancer prevention campaigns have been implemented in Australia for over two decades. The most notable is under the brand name, SunSmart. The aim of the current study is to assess the cost-effectiveness of SunSmart in the past and the potential cost-effectiveness of an ongoing national SunSmart program with optimal investment in the future.

An economic evaluation from a health sector perspective was conducted using the reduction in skin cancer incidence attributable to the SunSmart program modelled as the primary end-point. Historical SunSmart program expenditures were obtained from three representative states in three latitude zones, covering different levels of UVR exposure. Melanoma incidence rates from the three representative state cancer registers were used to model the health outcomes. Program effectiveness was assessed by the comparison between the well-resourced SunSmart state (Victoria) and the under-invested states (New South Wales and Queensland). Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC) was modelled based on national survey results. 2003 was chosen as the reference year and future costs/outcomes over a 20 year time horizon were discounted at 3%.
The future level of investment in a national SunSmart was chosen to strengthen current practice by increasing current investment to a realistic and achievable level. This conservative increase in investment (expressed as ‘$ per capita’) reflected the investment level that has been achieved in Victoria over sustained periods. To model the potential cost-effectiveness of an upgraded national SunSmart program, a conservative approach was taken, whereby the same magnitude of effectiveness from 1988 to 2003 was applied to future skin cancer incidence.

SunSmart in Victoria has saved 22,300 life-years, averted 27,900 disability-adjusted life-years(DALYs)(discounted) since its introduction in 1988 and achieved an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of $AUD 680 per life-year saved (LYS) and $AUD 540 per DALY averted. When the cost-offset from the estimated reduction in skin cancer treatment costs were taken into account, SunSmart achieved ‘dominance’. The net cost of SunSmart in the past was an estimated saving of $AUD 93 million. An upgraded national SunSmart for the next 20 years would save 91,000 life-years and avert 122,000 DALYs (discounted), involving an increased investment level from the current $AUD 0.07 per capita to the historical average of $AUD 0.28 per capita. The ICER for the upgraded SunSmart program was estimated at $AUD 940 per LYS and $AUD 700 per DALY averted. When the cost-offset is included, the program achieves dominance with a cost saving of $AUD 115 million – an estimated $AUD 2.32 return for every dollar invested between 2003 and 2022.

This study demonstrates that a sustained modest investment in skin cancer control is likely to be excellent value-for-money. While the available data base is certainly not prefect, key parameters would have to change dramatically for this conclusion to be challenged.
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Language eng
Field of Research 140208 Health Economics
Socio Economic Objective 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category E2.1 Full written paper - non-refereed / Abstract reviewed
Copyright notice ©2009, International Health Economics Association (iHEA)
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Document type: Conference Paper
Collections: Faculty of Health
Public Health Research, Evaluation, and Policy Cluster
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