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08.05.2020 | Original Paper Open Access

Cost-effectiveness of biennial screening for diabetes related retinopathy in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes compared to annual screening

The European Journal of Health Economics
Rebecca L. Thomas, Thomas G. Winfield, Matthew Prettyjohns, Frank D. Dunstan, Wai-Yee Cheung, Philippa M. Anderson, Rajesh Peter, Stephen D. Luzio, David R. Owens
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10198-020-01191-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Examine the health and economic impact of extending screening intervals in people with Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and Type 1 diabetes (T1DM) without diabetes-related retinopathy (DR).


Diabetic Eye Screening Wales (DESW).

Study design

Retrospective observational study with cost-utility analysis (CUA) and Decremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratios (DCER) study.


Biennial screening versus usual care (annual screening).


Anonymised data from DESW were linked to primary care data for people with two prior screening events with no DR. Transition probabilities for progression to DR were estimated based on a subset of 26,812 and 1232 people with T2DM and T1DM, respectively. DCER above £20,000 per QALY was considered cost-effective.


The base case analysis DCER results of £71,243 and £23,446 per QALY for T2DM and T1DM respectively at a 3.5% discount rate and £56,822 and £14,221 respectively when discounted at 1.5%. Diabetes management represented by the mean HbA1c was 7.5% for those with T2DM and 8.7% for T1DM.

Sensitivity analysis

Extending screening to biennial based on HbA1c, being the strongest predictor of progression of DR, at three levels of HbA1c 6.5%, 8.0% and 9.5% lost one QALY saving the NHS £106,075; £58,653 and £31,626 respectively for T2DM and £94,696, £37,646 and £11,089 respectively for T1DM. In addition, extending screening to biennial based on the duration of diabetes > 6 years for T2DM per QALY lost, saving the NHS £54,106 and for 6-12 and > 12 years for T1DM saving £83,856, £23,446 and £13,340 respectively.


Base case and sensitivity analyses indicate biennial screening to be cost-effective for T2DM irrespective of HbA1c and duration of diabetes. However, the uncertainty around the DCER indicates that annual screening should be maintained for those with T1DM especially when the HbA1c exceeds 80 mmol/mol (9.5%) and duration of diabetes is greater than 12 years.

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