Can a disease self-management program reduce health care costs? The case of older women with heart disease

Med Care. 2003 Jun;41(6):706-15. doi: 10.1097/01.MLR.0000065128.72148.D7.


Background: There is increasing interest in the potential for chronic disease self-management interventions to provide health benefits while reducing health care costs.

Objectives: To assess the impact of a heart disease management program on use of hospital services; to estimate associated hospital cost savings; and to compare potential cost savings with the cost of delivering the program.

Research design: Randomized, controlled study design. Data were collected from hospital billing records during a 36 month period. Multivariate models were used to compare health care use with cost between treatment and control groups. Estimated differences were then compared with the program costs to determine cost-effectiveness.

Subjects: Participants were recruited from 6 hospital sites. Screening criteria included: female, 60 years or older, diagnosed cardiac disease, and seen by a physician approximately every 6 months. The study included 233 women in the intervention group and 219 in the control group. The "Women Take PRIDE" program utilizes a self-regulation process for addressing a problematic area of the heart regimen recommended by each woman's physician. It is tailored to the unique needs of older women.

Measures: Hospital admissions, in-patient days, emergency department visits.

Results: Program participants experienced 46% fewer in-patient days (P <0.05) and 49% lower in-patient costs (P <0.10) than women in the control group. No significant differences in emergency department utilization were found. Hospital cost savings exceeded program costs by a ratio of nearly 5-to-1.

Conclusions: A heart disease self-management program can reduce health care utilization and potentially yield monetary benefits to a health plan.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cost Savings
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disease Management*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Services Research
  • Heart Diseases / economics*
  • Heart Diseases / therapy
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care / economics*
  • Patient Education as Topic / economics
  • Self Care / economics*
  • Women's Health