Cost-effectiveness of an educational intervention to reduce potentially inappropriate medication

Age Ageing. 2022 May 1;51(5):afac112. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afac112.


Background: Educational interventions can reduce potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use in older people. Their effectiveness has been measured mainly as changes in PIM use. In this economic evaluation, we analyse the impact of an educational intervention in terms of costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs).

Methods: The educational intervention consisted of activating and interactive training sessions for nursing staff and consulting physicians, and was compared with treatment as usual (TAU). Participants (n = 227) in a cluster randomised trial (cRCT) were residents living permanently in assisted living facilities (n = 20 wards). For economic evaluation, participants' healthcare service use costs and costs for the intervention were estimated for a 12 month period.Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were estimated for QALYs per participant. Cost-effectiveness analysis was conducted from a healthcare perspective. A bootstrapped cost-effectiveness plane and one-way sensitivity analysis were undertaken to analyse the uncertainty surrounding the estimates.

Results: The educational intervention was estimated to be less costly and less effective in terms of QALYs than TAU at the 12 month follow-up [incremental costs -€1,629, confidence interval (CI) -€5,489 to €2,240; incremental effect -0.02, CI -0.06 to 0.02]. The base case ICER was >€80,000/QALY.

Conclusion: The educational intervention was estimated to be less costly and less effective in terms of QALYs compared with TAU, but the results are subject to some uncertainties. Reduction in PIM use or benefits in quality of life did not seem to translate into improvements in QALYs. Our findings emphasise the need for better understanding of the impact of decreasing PIM use on health outcomes.

Keywords: economic evaluation; educational intervention; implementation intervention; older people; potentially inappropriate medication.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Potentially Inappropriate Medication List*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years