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Respir Med. 2001 Jan;95(1):56-63.

Long-term economic evaluation of intensive patient education during the first treatment year in newly diagnosed adult asthma.

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  • 1South Karelia Central Hospital, Department of Respiratory Diseases, Lappeenranta, Finland.


The cost-effectiveness of intensive patient education of guided asthma self-management given during the first treatment year was evaluated after 5 years of follow-up. Consecutive, newly-diagnosed asthmatics (n = 162, age 18-76 years) were randomized for intensive (80 patients) vs. conventional patient education. Effectiveness was evaluated in terms of lung functions, airway hyperresponsiveness (PD15), and quality of life as measured by the generic 15D and disease-specific St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ). Total treatment costs were also estimated. All patients had anti-inflammatory treatment from the beginning. Sixty-four intervention group (IG) patients and 70 control group (CG) patients were evaluated after 5 years. Forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1) improved only in the IG, and only during the first treatment year. However, PD15 improved throughout the follow-up. The unscheduled healthcare costs were significantly higher in the CG than in the IG (P = 0.04) and the relative risk for sickness days due to asthma was lower in the IG than in the CG, odds ratio 0.33 (95% CI 0.28; 0.40). However, because there was no significant difference between the groups in any outcome variable or in total costs at 5 years, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio could not be calculated. The first year intervention had only a short-term beneficial treatment effect, which the CG could catch up during the two last follow-up years, except in FEV1. The peak expiratory flow (PEF)-based self-management had no advantage over the symptom-based self-management. However, the intervention had a consistent tendency of being less costly in the long-run. It is possible to conclude tentatively that regular effective medical treatment and control visits during the first treatment year is at least as important for the long-term treatment result as intensive patient education.

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