Background: Long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods are highly effective in preventing unintended pregnancies. However, their uptake is low in much of the developed world. This study aimed at assessing the cost-effectiveness of LARC methods from the British National Health Service (NHS) perspective.
Methods: A decision-analytic model was constructed to estimate the relative cost-effectiveness of the copper intrauterine device (IUD), the levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS), the etonogestrel subdermal implant and the depot medroxyprogesterone acetate injection (DMPA). Comparisons with the combined oral contraceptive pill (COC) and female sterilization were also performed. Effectiveness data were derived from a systematic literature review. Costs were based on UK national sources and expert opinion.
Results: LARC methods dominated COC (i.e. they were more effective and less costly). Female sterilization dominated LARC methods beyond 5 years of contraceptive protection. DMPA and LNG-IUS were the least cost-effective LARC methods. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of implant (most effective LARC method) versus IUD (cheapest LARC method) was pound13 206 per unintended pregnancy averted for 1 year of use and decreased until implant dominated IUD in 15 years. Discontinuation was a key determinant of the cost-effectiveness of LARC methods.
Conclusions: LARC methods are cost-effective from the British NHS perspective. Practices improving user satisfaction and continuation of LARC method use should be identified and promoted.