Cost-effectiveness of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer
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OBJECTIVE: Economic analyses in reproductive medicine often fail to take into account the chances of treatment-independent conception. We compared the cost-effectiveness of several realistic strategies involving IVF using no treatment as the reference strategy. DESIGN: A decision tree was constructed for a subfertile couple in which the clinician had to decide whether to offer treatment with IVF. No treatment at all was used as the reference strategy. SETTING: An analytic decision-making framework. PATIENT(S): Hypothetical subfertile couples. INTERVENTION(S): Two potential treatment approaches: three IVF cycles performed as soon as possible, or no treatment performed initially and then three or four IVF cycles performed if a pregnancy resulting in a live birth does not occur naturally after 212 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): The cost of establishing one pregnancy that results in a live birth. RESULT(S): The cost-effectiveness of IVF depended not only on the costs and expected success rates of IVF itself but also on the couple-specific chances of treatment-independent conception. Consequently, the cost-effectiveness of IVF is strongly dependent on the age of the female partner. This finding corresponds with everyday clinical experience. CONCLUSION(S): Economic analyses in reproductive medicine should take into account the option of providing no treatment.
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