Primary care exercise counseling cost-effective for older men
Patricia A. Cowper, Ph.D., from the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C., and colleagues conducted an economic assessment of a primary care-based physical activity counseling intervention that improved physical activity levels and rapid gait speed in 398 older male veterans (aged ≥70 years). Intervention costs were examined, and health care resource use and costs were estimated through one year of follow-up.
The researchers found that per participant, the total direct cost of the intervention was $459; 85 percent of which was counselor effort. Program cost totaled $696 per participant with overhead. During follow-up, medical costs reached $10,418 with the intervention, compared with $12,052 with usual care (difference, −$1,634; 95 percent confidence interval, −$4,683 to $1,416; P = 0.29). In terms of short-term clinical outcomes, the intervention cost $4,971 or $4,640 per additional patient reaching the target exercise level or per patient achieving a clinically significant change in rapid gait speed, respectively.
"Improvements in physical activity and rapid gait speed in the physical activity counseling group were obtained at a cost that represents a small fraction of patients' annual health care costs," the authors write.
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