Cost-effectiveness of a structured medication review approach for multimorbid older adults: Within-trial analysis of the OPERAM study

PLoS One. 2022 Apr 11;17(4):e0265507. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0265507. eCollection 2022.


Background: Inappropriate polypharmacy has been linked with adverse outcomes in older, multimorbid adults. OPERAM is a European cluster-randomized trial aimed at testing the effect of a structured pharmacotherapy optimization intervention on preventable drug-related hospital admissions in multimorbid adults with polypharmacy aged 70 years or older. Clinical results of the trial showed a pattern of reduced drug-related hospital admissions, but without statistical significance. In this study we assessed the cost-effectiveness of the pharmacotherapy optimisation intervention.

Methods: We performed a pre-planned within-trial cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) of the OPERAM intervention, from a healthcare system perspective. All data were collected within the trial apart from unit costs. QALYs were computed by applying the crosswalk German valuation algorithm to EQ-5D-5L-based quality of life data. Considering the clustered structure of the data and between-country heterogeneity, we applied Generalized Structural Equation Models (GSEMs) on a multiple imputed sample to estimate costs and QALYs. We also performed analyses by country and subgroup analyses by patient and morbidity characteristics.

Results: Trial-wide, the intervention was numerically dominant, with a potential cost-saving of CHF 3'588 (95% confidence interval (CI): -7'716; 540) and gain of 0.025 QALYs (CI: -0.002; 0.052) per patient. Robustness analyses confirmed the validity of the GSEM model. Subgroup analyses suggested stronger effects in people at higher risk.

Conclusion: We observed a pattern towards dominance, potentially resulting from an accumulation of multiple small positive intervention effects. Our methodological approaches may inform other CEAs of multi-country, cluster-randomized trials facing presence of missing values and heterogeneity between centres/countries.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Medication Review*
  • Multimorbidity
  • Polypharmacy
  • Quality of Life*

Grants and funding

This work is part of the project “OPERAM: OPtimising thERapy to prevent Avoidable hospital admissions in the Multimorbid elderly” supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No 6342388, and by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) under contract number 15.0137. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EC and the Swiss government. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.