Introduction: Dry needling (DN) has been shown to be effective for the treatment of upper extremity hypertonia in patients with stroke.
Purpose: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of DN in patients with stroke.
Methods: A cost-effectiveness analysis was performed in a research study conducted at a Spanish public hospital where patients were classified into two groups with or without DN. Hypertonia was measured using the Modified Modified Ashworth Scale (MMAS), and quality of life (QOL) was assessed using the EuroQoL 5-dimension questionnaire. Data regarding the effects and costs of physiotherapy were presented by calculating the mean and 95% confidence interval. The health outcomes were evaluated considering the rate of responders to the treatment based on the MMAS. Spanish preference weights were used to estimate quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) and incremental cost-utility ratio (ICUR) were calculated to determine the economic value of DN.
Results: Eighty patients with stroke in the subacute stage of recovery were selected to participate in this study. Based on the rate of responders, the ICER of the DN group was very low. Despite the sensitivity analysis performed, the results of the ICUR were not encouraging.
Discussion: Cost-effectiveness with responder rate results were favourable for the DN group and were confirmed by the sensitivity analysis according to levels of care. In addition, our findings revealed that 4 weeks of treatment could be more cost-effective than 8 weeks. DN treatment of the upper extremity appears to be cost-effective based on the rate of responders measured using the MMAS scale.
Keywords: EQ-5D-5L; cost-effectiveness; cost-utility; dry needling; stroke; upper extremity.