Illustrating Economic Evaluation of Diagnostic Technologies: Comparing Helicobacter pylori Screening Strategies in Prevention of Gastric Cancer in Canada
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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this paper is to present an economic evaluation of diagnostic technologies using Helicobacter pylori screening strategies for the prevention of gastric cancer as an illustration. METHODS: A Markov model was constructed to compare the lifetime cost and effectiveness of 4 potential strategies: no screening, the serology test by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), the stool antigen test (SAT), and the (13)C-urea breath test (UBT) for the detection of H. pylori among a hypothetical cohort of 10,000 Canadian men aged 35 years. Special parameter consideration included the sensitivity and specificity of each screening strategy, which determined the model structure and treatment regimen. The primary outcome measured was the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio between the screening strategies and the no-screening strategy. Base-case analysis and probabilistic sensitivity analysis were performed using the point estimates of the parameters and Monte Carlo simulations, respectively. RESULTS: Compared with the no-screening strategy in the base-case analysis, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was $33,000 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) for the ELISA, $29,800 per QALY for the SAT, and $50,400 per QALY for the UBT. The probabilistic sensitivity analysis revealed that the no-screening strategy was more cost effective if the willingness to pay (WTP) was <$20,000 per QALY, while the SAT had the highest probability of being cost effective if the WTP was >$30,000 per QALY. Both the ELISA and the UBT were not cost-effective strategies over a wide range of WTP values. CONCLUSION: Although the UBT had the highest sensitivity and specificity, either no screening or the SAT could be the most cost-effective strategy depending on the WTP threshold values from an economic perspective. This highlights the importance of economic evaluations of diagnostic technologies.
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