An economic analysis of usual care and acupuncture collaborative treatment on chronic low back pain: A Markov model decision analysis
1 Seoul National University, Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul, South Korea
2 Oriental Medical College of Wonkwang University, Iksan, South Korea
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:74 doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-74Published: 25 November 2010
The collaborative treatment of acupuncture in addition to routine care as an approach for the management of low back pain (LBP) is receiving increasing recognition from both public and professional arenas. In 2010, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs (MOHW) of South Korea approved the practice of doctors and Oriental medical doctors (acupuncture qualified) working together in the same facility and offering collaborative treatment at the same time for the same disease. However, there is little more than anecdotal evidence on the health and economic implications of this current practice. Therefore, the objective of this study is to examine the effectiveness and costs of acupuncture in addition to routine care in the treatment of chronic LBP patients in South Korea.
The Markov model was developed to synthesise evidence on both costs and outcomes for patients with chronic LBP. We conducted the base case analysis, univariate and probabilistic sensitivity analyses, and also performed the value of information analysis for future researches. Model parameters were sourced from systematic review of both alternatives, simple bibliographic reviews of relevant articles published in English or Korean, and statistical analyses of the 2005 and 2007 Korean National Health and Nutrition Survey (KNHNS) data. The analyses were based on the societal perspective over a five year time horizon using a 5% discount rate.
In the base case, collaborative treatment resulted in better outcomes, but at a relatively high cost. Overall, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of a collaborative practice was 3,421,394 KRW (Korean rate Won) per QALY (Quality adjusted life year) (2,895.80 USD per QALY). Univariate sensitivity analysis of indirect non-medical costs did not affect the preference order of the strategies. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis revealed that if the threshold was over 3,260,000 KRW per QALY (2,759.20 USD per QALY), the probability for cost-effectiveness of a collaborative practice would exceed 50%. At 20,000,000 KRW per QALY, which is recommended using per capita gross domestic product (GDP) as the threshold, the probability would be 72.3%.
On the basis of our findings, acupuncture collaborative therapy for patients with chronic LBP may be cost-effective if the usual threshold is applied. Further empirical studies are required to overcome the limitations of uncertainties and improve the precision of the results.