Objectives: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a 9-month preventive occupational therapy (OT) program in the Well-Elderly Study: a randomized trial in independent-living older adults that found significant health, function, and quality of life benefits attributable to preventive OT.
Design: A randomized trial.
Setting: Two government-subsidized apartment complexes.
Participants: One hundred sixty-three culturally diverse volunteers aged 60 and older.
Intervention: An OT group, a social activity group (active control), and a nontreatment group (passive control).
Measurements: Use of healthcare services was determined by telephone interview during and after the treatment phase. A conversion algorithm was applied to the RAND 36-item Short Form Health Survey to derive a preference-based health-related quality of life index, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for preventive OT relative to the combined control group.
Results: Costs for the 9-month OT program averaged $548 per subject. Postintervention healthcare costs were lower for the OT group ($967) than for the active control group ($1,726), the passive control group ($3,334), or a combination of the control groups ($2,593). The quality of life index showed a 4.5% QALY differential (OT vs combined control), P <.001. The cost per QALY estimates for the OT group was $10,666 (95% confidence interval = $6,747-$25,430). For the passive and active control groups, the corresponding costs per QALY were $13,784 and $7,820, respectively.
Conclusion: In this study, preventive OT demonstrated cost-effectiveness in conjunction with a trend toward decreased medical expenditures.