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J Eval Clin Pract. 2012 Aug;18(4):835-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2011.01686.x. Epub 2011 Apr 24.

Increasing heart-health lifestyles in deprived communities: economic evaluation of lay health trainers.

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Health Economics Group (HEG), Norwich Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Chancellor's Drive, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.



Cardiovascular disease (CVD) often arises from modifiable lifestyle factors. Health care professionals may lack the skills and resources to sustain behaviour change, lay 'health trainers' (LHT) offer a potential alternative. We sought to assess the cost-effectiveness of using a LHT to improve heart-health lifestyles in deprived communities.


Participants in this randomized trial were aged ≥18 years with at least one risk factor for CVD (hypertension, raised cholesterol, diabetes, BMI>30 or current smoker). Both groups received health promotion literature. LHT were also able to provide intervention participants with information, advice and support aimed at changing beliefs and behaviour. Costs and quality-adjusted life year (QALY) changes were estimated over 6 months. The cost-utility [incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER)] of LHT was calculated and assessed in relation to the cost-effectiveness threshold of £20 000-30 000 per QALY. The probability of LHT being cost-effective was also calculated.


Seventy-two participants were randomized to a LHT, with 38 controls. The mean cost of the LHT intervention was £151. On average, other health and social service costs fell by £21 for controls and £75 for intervention participants giving a LHT mean overall incremental cost of £98. The mean QALY gains were 0.022 and 0.028, respectively. The ICER for LHT was £14 480, yet there was a 61% chance of making the wrong decision at a £20 000/QALY threshold.


LHT provision was estimated to be cost-effective for people at risk of CVD. However, a large level of uncertainty was associated with that decision.

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