Cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation to prevent age-related macular degenerationReport as inadecuate

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Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation

, 6:18

First Online: 11 September 2008Received: 14 January 2008Accepted: 11 September 2008


BackgroundTobacco smoking is a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration, but studies of ex-smokers suggest quitting can reduce the risk.

MethodsWe fitted a function predicting the decline in risk of macular degeneration after quitting to data from 7 studies involving 1,488 patients. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation in terms of its impact on macular degeneration-related outcomes for 1,000 randomly selected U.S. smokers. We used a computer simulation model to predict the incidence of macular degeneration and blindness, the number of quality-adjusted life-years QALYs, and direct costs in 2004 U.S. dollars until age 85 years. Cost-effectiveness ratios were based on the cost of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program. Costs and QALYs were discounted at 3% per year.

ResultsIf 1,000 smokers quit, our model predicted 48 fewer cases of macular degeneration, 12 fewer cases of blindness, and a gain of 1,600 QALYs. Macular degeneration-related costs would decrease by $2.5 million if the costs of caregivers for people with vision loss were included, or by $1.1 million if caregiver costs were excluded. At a cost of $1,400 per quitter, smoking cessation was cost-saving when caregiver costs were included, and cost about $200 per QALY gained when caregiver costs were excluded. Sensitivity analyses had a negligible impact. The cost per quitter would have to exceed $77,000 for the cost per QALY for smoking cessation to reach $50,000, a threshold above which interventions are sometimes viewed as not cost-effective.

ConclusionSmoking cessation is unequivocally cost-effective in terms of its impact on age-related macular degeneration outcomes alone.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1478-7547-6-18 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Susan F Hurley - Jane P Matthews - Robyn H Guymer


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