Economic Appraisal of a Community-Wide Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program
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BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of hospitalizations, death, and health care costs. Although studies have shown that modifying CVD risk factors at the patient level improves patient prognosis, the effect of community-wide interventions at the population level has been uncertain. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the resource use and cost consequences of a community-wide Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program (CHAP). METHODS: Thirty-nine medium-sized communities in Ontario, Canada, participated in a community cluster randomized controlled trial stratified by population size and geographic location. All community-dwelling elderly residents (>65 years) in each community were included. Family physicians, pharmacists, community nurses, local organizations, and volunteers in the intervention communities implemented the program. Rates and costs of CVD hospitalizations, all hospitalizations, emergency department visits, physician visits, and prescription medication use in the year before and after the intervention were compared for the 19 control and 20 CHAP communities by using province-wide linked administrative databases. The cost of implementing and administrating CHAP in each community was combined with total community health care cost to determine the net cost effect. RESULTS: CHAP was associated with a reduction in CVD hospitalization costs. There were no differences in utilization rates or costs for overall hospitalizations, in visits to emergency rooms, physicians, or specialists, or in the use of prescription medications. Results were robust over a range of cost assumptions. CONCLUSIONS: A community-wide CVD awareness program can be implemented and can reduce CVD-related hospitalization costs at the level of the community without a corresponding increase in overall health care costs.
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