A cost-effectiveness analysis of a peak flow-based asthma education and self-management plan in a high-cost population

J Asthma. 2004 Aug;41(5):559-65.


Background: Asthma education and action plans (AP) have been recognized as important components in the optimal management of asthma. Studies have differed on the importance of a peak flow-based self-management plans in reducing health care costs and use due to asthma exacerbation.

Objective: To analyze the cost-effectiveness of peak flow-based action plans in reducing costs associated with ER visits and hospitalizations due to acute asthma exacerbation in a population of high-risk and high-cost patients, defined as patients with moderate to severe asthma with a history of recent urgent treatment in the ER or hospitalization due to asthma.

Methods: A literature review of randomized clinical trials comparing peak flow-based (PFB) action plans, symptom-based (SB) action plans, and usual care/no action plan (NAP) was performed. Probability values regarding the effectiveness of each alternative (as measured by increase/decrease in ER visits and hospitalizations over a 6-month period) were derived. Incremental cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit ratios were calculated for each alternative. Sensitivity analyses were performed.

Results: For high-risk and high-cost asthma patients, our analysis revealed that the most cost-effective alternative for reducing ER visits was a peak flow-based self-management plan. The peak flow-based self-management program had an incremental cost-effectiveness (C/E) ratio of $ 60.57 per ER visit averted compared to usual care/NAP and a C/E ratio of $31.46 compared to the SB-AP. The PFB-AP was also the most cost-effective in reducing asthma hospitalization costs with an incremental C/E ratio of $300 per hospitalization prevented, compared with usual care and a C/E ratio of $311, compared to a SB-AP. Analysis yielded a cost-benefit ratio of 13.79 for the PFB-AP compared to NAP; the SB-AP had a cost-benefit ratio of 11.53 compared to NAP.

Conclusion: Cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses reveal that for high-cost patients, a peak flow-based asthma education and self-management plan program is the most cost-effective alternative in reducing costs associated with ER visits and hospitalizations due to asthma exacerbation. Further refinements to this cost-effectiveness analysis including measuring changes in drug use and costs and patients' productivity losses need to be pursued and may demonstrate additional cost-savings due to peak flow-based asthma education plans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic
  • Patient Education as Topic / economics*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Self Care / economics*