Cost-effectiveness of nonpharmacologic, nonsurgical interventions for hip and/or knee osteoarthritis: systematic review

Value Health. 2012 Jan;15(1):1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2011.09.003. Epub 2011 Nov 29.


Objective: To investigate the cost-effectiveness of nonpharmacological, nonsurgical interventions for the treatment of hip and/or knee osteoarthritis.

Methods: We identified economic evaluations or cost studies associated with randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials that assessed nonpharmacologic, nonsurgical interventions for the treatment of hip and/or knee osteoarthritis. Medline, Embase, PubMed, National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database, CENTRAL, EconLit, and OpenSIGLE were searched up to October 1, 2010. Study characteristics extracted include study population, health outcomes, and economic analysis elements. Economic analyses were assessed by using the Quality of Health Economic Studies instrument, and the methodological quality of the randomized controlled trials was graded by using an internal validity checklist. All costs were converted to 2008 US dollars.

Results: Ten economic evaluations and one randomized controlled trial reporting health-care costs met our inclusion criteria. Interventions included exercise programs, acupuncture, rehabilitation programs, and lifestyle interventions. Six of the 11 studies exhibited high risks of bias for the cost and/or effect components of their cost-effectiveness estimate. Six studies used comparators of unknown cost-effectiveness. Four studies reported cost-effectiveness estimates lower than $50,000 per quality-adjusted life-year. All studies evaluating exercise interventions found the programs to be cost saving.

Conclusions: There is only limited evidence for the cost-effectiveness of conservative treatments for the management of hip and/or knee osteoarthritis. More high-quality economic evaluations of conservative interventions are needed to further inform practice.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Exercise Therapy / economics
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / economics*
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / economics*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / economics
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic