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The prevalence of obesity is over 25% in many developed countries. Obesity is strongly associated with an increased risk of fatal and chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Therefore it has become a major public health concern for many economies. E-learning devices are a relatively novel approach to promoting dietary change. The new generation of devices are ‘adaptive’ and use interactive electronic media to facilitate teaching and learning. E-Learning has grown out of recent developments in information and communication technology, such as the Internet, interactive computer programmes, interactive television and mobile phones. The aim of this study is to assess the cost-effectiveness of e-learning devices as a method of promoting weight loss via dietary change.
An economic evaluation was performed using decision modelling techniques. Outcomes were expressed in terms of Quality-Adjusted Life-Years (QALYs) and costs were estimated from a health services perspective. All parameter estimates were derived from the literature. A systematic review was undertaken to derive the estimate of relative treatment effect.
The base case results from the e-Learning Economic Evaluation Model (e-LEEM) suggested that the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was approximately £102,000 per Quality-Adjusted Life-Year (QALY) compared to conventional care. This finding was robust to most alternative assumptions, except a much lower fixed cost of providing e-learning devices. Expected value of perfect information (EVPI) analysis showed that while the individual level EVPI was arguably negligible, the population level value was between £37 M and £170 M at a willingness to pay between £20,000 to £30,000 per additional QALY.
The current economic evidence base suggests that e-learning devices for managing the weight of obese individuals are unlikely to be cost-effective unless their fixed costs are much lower than estimated or future devices prove to be much more effective.