Economic model of community-based falls prevention: seeking methodological solutions in evaluating the efficiency and equity of UK guideline recommendations
Kwon J., Squires H., Young T.
Abstract Background Falls significantly harm geriatric health and impose substantial costs on care systems and wider society. Decision modelling can inform the commissioning of falls prevention but face methodological challenges, including: (1) capturing non-health outcomes and societal intervention costs; (2) considering heterogeneity and dynamic complexity; (3) considering theories of human behaviour and implementation; and (4) considering issues of equity. This study seeks methodological solutions in developing a credible economic model of community-based falls prevention for older persons (aged 60 +) to inform local falls prevention commissioning as recommended by UK guidelines. Methods A framework for conceptualising public health economic models was followed. Conceptualisation was conducted in Sheffield as a representative local health economy. Model parameterisation used publicly available data including English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and UK-based falls prevention trials. Key methodological developments in operationalising a discrete individual simulation model included: (1) incorporating societal outcomes including productivity, informal caregiving cost, and private care expenditure; (2) parameterising dynamic falls-frailty feedback loop whereby falls influence long-term outcomes via frailty progression; (3) incorporating three parallel prevention pathways with unique eligibility and implementation conditions; and (4) assessing equity impacts through distributional cost-effectiveness analysis (DCEA) and individual-level lifetime outcomes (e.g., number reaching ‘fair innings’). Guideline-recommended strategy (RC) was compared against usual care (UC). Probabilistic sensitivity, subgroup, and scenario analyses were conducted. Results RC had 93.4% probability of being cost-effective versus UC at cost-effectiveness threshold of £20,000 per QALY gained under 40-year societal cost-utility analysis. It increased productivity and reduced private expenditure and informal caregiving cost, but productivity gain and private expenditure reduction were outstripped by increases in intervention time opportunity costs and co-payments, respectively. RC reduced inequality delineated by socioeconomic status quartile. Gains in individual-level lifetime outcomes were small. Younger geriatric age groups can cross-subsidise their older peers for whom RC is cost-ineffective. Removing the falls-frailty feedback made RC no longer efficient or equitable versus UC. Conclusion Methodological advances addressed several key challenges associated with falls prevention modelling. RC appears cost-effective and equitable versus UC. However, further analyses should confirm whether RC is optimal versus other potential strategies and investigate feasibility issues including capacity implications.