Cost–Utility of Group Versus Individual Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Pain Using Quality-Adjusted Life Years in a Noninferiority Trial
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Introduction: Individual acupuncture (AP) is the gold standard method of AP delivery for cancer-related pain; however, costs can be prohibitive. Group AP allows four to six patients to be treated in a single session. This study sought to examine the cost-utility of group AP compared with individual AP from a patient perspective. Materials and Methods: Effectiveness and cost data from a noninferiority randomized trial of group versus individual AP for cancer-related pain were used. In the trial, 74 patients were randomly assigned to individual or group AP treatments twice per week for 6 weeks. The EuroQol five-dimension five level questionnaire (EQ-5D-5L) was used to assess health-related quality of life, and the EQ-5D Utility Index was used as a composite measure constituted of five domains (mobility, self-care, usual activities, anxiety-depression, and pain-discomfort). Linear mixed models were used to compare the change in EQ-5D-5L states pre-post intervention between the two arms. A cost-utility analysis was performed in terms of the incremental costs per additional quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained. Results: Group AP participants experienced more significant relief in the pain-discomfort subscale of the EQ-5D-5L measure compared with individual AP participants (group × time, F = 6.18; p = 0.02). The effect size on pain-discomfort for group AP (d = 0.80) was higher than that of individual AP (d = 0.34). There were no significant differences between the two study arms for other subscales of the EQ-5D-5L over time. QALYs at 6 weeks were slightly higher for group AP (0.020) compared with individual AP (0.007) leading to an incremental QALY gained by the group arm of 0.013, but this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.07). The cost of delivering AP treatment for the group arm over 6 weeks ($201.25) was nearly half of the individual arm ($400). Conclusions: Group AP was superior to individual AP in cancer patients. These findings have implications for the use of group AP in low-resource settings and in health care systems where AP for cancer patients is not covered by public health insurance. ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03641222). Registered July 10, 2018-Retrospectively registered, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/study/NCT03641222.
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