Development of clinical priority access criteria for assisted reproduction and its evaluation on 1386 infertile couples in New Zealand

Hum Reprod. 2012 Jan;27(1):131-41. doi: 10.1093/humrep/der372. Epub 2011 Nov 10.


Background: In New Zealand ranking patients for elective, publicly funded procedures uses clinical priority access criteria (CPAC). A CPAC to prioritize patients seeking assisted reproductive technology (ART) was developed in 1997 and implemented nationwide in 2000. This study describes the development of the ART CPAC tool and its evaluation on 1386 couples referred to a single tertiary service from 1998 to 2005.

Methods: A total of 48 health professionals and consumers assisted in criteria development. A score between 0 and 100 points was calculated for each couple and those who reached ≥65 points were eligible for publicly funded ART. Couples beneath the treatment threshold were placed on active review; the review being the date the score was calculated to reach the treatment threshold. Couples who would never be eligible or who were on active review were offered private treatment. Treatments and outcomes (spontaneous and treatment dependent live birth pregnancies) were used to evaluate the criteria.

Results: Three social criteria (duration infertility, number of children and sterilization status) and two objective criteria (diagnosis and female age) formed the priority score. Of the evaluated couples, 643 (46%) were eligible within 1 year of referral (Group 1), 451 (33%) >1-5 years from referral (Group 2) and 292 (21%) couples were never eligible (Group 3). The predominant ART was IVF. A total of 480 couples had at least one IVF treatment with 404 (84%) having publicly funded treatment. A total of 762 (55%) women gave birth, 473 from treatment and 289 spontaneously. Group 1 had more pregnancies from treatment while Group 2 had most pregnancies overall being mainly from spontaneous pregnancies. Compared with Group 3 cases the hazard ratio using time to spontaneous live birth pregnancy for Group 1 couples was significantly lower, 0.51 (95% confidence interval 0.36-0.74) and for Group 2 cases significantly higher, 1.86, (1.35-2.58). Treatments using ART were evaluated for the three eligibility groups, with the never eligible divided into women age <40 (Group 3a) and woman age ≥40 at referral (Group 3b). Compared with Group 1 cases the hazard ratio to treatment dependent live birth pregnancy was similar for Groups 2 and 3a but significantly lower for Group 3b (0.37, 0.14-0.90).

Conclusions: The clinical priority access score was able to discriminate between the chance of pregnancy with and without treatment and those offered and not offered treatment. The CPAC is a useful model for informing the allocation of public funding for ART in other countries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Algorithms
  • Data Collection
  • Embryo Transfer / methods
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / methods
  • Humans
  • Infertility / therapy*
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • New Zealand
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / standards
  • Risk