Purpose of the Study. To estimate the cost-effectiveness of 2 different asthma care interventions: a peer leader–based physician behavior-change intervention (PLE) and a practice-based redesign called the planned asthma care intervention (PACI).
Study Population. Participants were 638 children (aged 3–17 years) with mild-to-moderate asthma. More than half of the subjects were on maintenance medication.
Methods. This was a 3-arm cluster-randomized trial conducted in 42 primary care practices. These practices were randomly assigned to PLE (n = 226), PACI (n = 213), or usual care (n = 199). The PLE strategy involved training a pediatrician at each of the practice sites as an asthma expert and champion. This leader provided support, education, and feedback to the other members of the practice with regard to asthma management. The PACI strategy included all the components of the PLE arm and also included scheduled asthma care visits with an asthma nurse, who provided standardized assessments, care planning, coordination with the primary care physician, and self-management tools. Practices in the usual-care arm received copies of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 2 and patient-information handouts 12 months into the study. The subjects were followed for 2 years. The primary outcome was symptom-free days (SFDs). Costs included asthma-related health care utilization and intervention.
Results. Patients in the usual-care arm of the study had in increase in SFDs of 14.8 per year. Patients in the PLE and PACI arms had an additional gain of 6.5 and 13.3 SFDs per year, respectively, compared with the usual-care arm. When the costs of development were excluded, the cost for SFDs gained compared with usual care was $18 for PLE and $68 for PACI.
Conclusions. It is possible to increase SFDs in children and to move organizations toward guideline recommendations for asthma management. However, the improvements were associated with an increase in the costs associated with asthma care.
Reviewer Comments. This trial was designed to provide cost analyses to both health care providers and health maintenance organizations. It is difficult, however, to establish a threshold for cost-effectiveness. The authors cite other trials to provide a context for this question. For example, the cost-effectiveness of inhaled corticosteroids in the treatment of children ranges from $7 to $12 per SFD gained. A social worker–based intervention had a cost-effectiveness ratio of $9 per SFD gained. What is it worth to patients, their families, and their health care providers to have an extra SFD?
- Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Pediatrics