Objectives: Evidence regarding the cost-effectiveness of joint protection and hand exercises for the management of hand OA is not well established. The primary aim of this study is to assess the cost-effectiveness (cost-utility) of these management options. In addition, given the absence of consensus regarding the conduct of economic evaluation alongside factorial trials, we compare different analytical methodologies.
Methods: A trial-based economic evaluation to assess the cost-utility of joint protection only, hand exercises only and joint protection plus hand exercises compared with leaflet and advice was undertaken over a 12 month period from a UK National Health Service perspective. Patient-level mean costs and mean quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were calculated for each trial arm. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were estimated and cost-effectiveness acceptability curves were constructed. The base case analysis used a within-the-table analysis methodology. Two further methods were explored: the at-the-margins approach and a regression-based approach with or without an interaction term.
Results: Mean costs (QALYs) were £58.46 (s.d. 0.662) for leaflet and advice, £92.12 (s.d. 0.659) for joint protection, £64.51 (s.d. 0.681) for hand exercises and £112.38 (s.d. 0.658) for joint protection plus hand exercises. In the base case, hand exercises were the cost-effective option, with an ICER of £318 per QALY gained. Hand exercises remained the most cost-effective management strategy when adopting alternative methodological approaches.
Conclusion: This is the first trial evaluating the cost-effectiveness of occupational therapy-supported approaches to self-management for hand OA. Our findings showed that hand exercises were the most cost-effective option.
Keywords: cost-effectiveness; cost-utility; factorial trial; hand osteoarthritis.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology.