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04.12.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 5/2019

Dysphagia 5/2019

Economic Analysis of a Three-Arm RCT Exploring the Delivery of Intensive, Prophylactic Swallowing Therapy to Patients with Head and Neck Cancer During (Chemo)Radiotherapy

Dysphagia > Ausgabe 5/2019
Laurelie R. Wall, Sanjeewa Kularatna, Elizabeth C. Ward, Bena Cartmill, Anne J. Hill, Elizabeth Isenring, Joshua Byrnes, Sandro V. Porceddu


Research advocates for the use of intensive, prophylactic swallowing therapy to help reduce the severity of dysphagia in patients receiving (chemo)radiotherapy ([C]RT) for head/neck cancer (HNC). Unfortunately, the intensity of this therapy, coupled with growing patient numbers and limited clinical resources, provides challenges to many international cancer facilities. Telepractice has been proposed as a potential method to provide patients with greater support in home-practice, whilst minimising burden to the health service. This study investigated the clinical and patient-attributable costs of delivering an intensive, prophylactic swallowing therapy protocol via a new telepractice application “SwallowIT” as compared to clinician-directed FTF therapy and independent patient self-directed therapy. Patients (n = 79) with oropharyngeal HNC receiving definitive (C)RT were randomised to receive therapy via a: clinician-directed (n = 26), patient-directed (n = 27), or SwallowIT-assisted (n = 26) model of care. Data pertaining to health service costs (service time, consumables, therapy resources), patient-attributable costs (travel and wages) and patient-reported health-related quality of life (QoL) (AQoL-6D) were collected. SwallowIT provided a cost-efficient model of care when compared to the clinician-directed model, with significant cost savings to both the health service and to HNC consumers (total saving of $1901.10 AUD per patient; p < 0.001). The SwallowIT model also proved more cost-effective than the patient-directed model, yielding clinically significantly superior QoL at the end of (C)RT, for comparable costs. Overall, when compared to the alternate methods of service-delivery, SwallowIT provided a financially viable and cost-effective method for the delivery of intensive, prophylactic swallowing therapy to patients with HNC during (C)RT.

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