862. The cost-effectiveness of physical activity interventions: A systematic review of reviews
Commentary by Dr Melody Ding, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sydney
In this systematic review of reviews, Abu-Omar et al. aimed to identify and synthesise reviews that summarised cost-effectiveness of physical activity interventions. As the authors identified, cost-effectiveness analysis is important for informing public health decision making but the current evidence on the cost-effectiveness of physical activity interventions is limited.
The authors systematically searched 10 databases to identify literature reviews (modeled or summarized) of health economic evaluations of interventions that aimed at increasing physical activity or improving health through physical activity. Two reviewers independently screened and summarised the reviews and the Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies of the National Collaboration Centre for Methods and Tools was used for quality appraisals. Results were summarised by age categories of the target group and the intervention settings. Interventions were coded as “cost saving” if the benefits of the intervention (e.g., saved healthcare costs, reduction of absenteeism, productivity gained) outweighed the costs of the intervention, and “cost effective” if the costs of an intervention were not outweighed by the benefits but the intervention provided “good value for money” when compared with alternative intervention options.
This study identified 18 reviews, of which 14 were rated high quality. These reviews covered a diverse range of target groups from children to older adults, and a wide range of settings, such as workplace, school, and healthcare. Overall, this systematic review of reviews identified some evidence for physical activity interventions being cost effective, particularly in school-based (non-active travel) interventions, pedometer and brief interventions in the healthcare setting, falls prevention, environmental interventions and mass media campaigns. Overall, cost effectiveness analysis was more commonly applied to individual-level, as compared with population-level, interventions. The authors suggest more evidence building on cost-effectiveness of physical activity interventions, particularly among natural experiments to evaluate policies and environmental changes, and evaluations of scaled-up physical activity interventions in an international setting.
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