Prioritizing risk factors to identify preventive interventions for economic assessment
Nick Wilson, Tony Blakely, Rachel H Foster, David Hadorn & Theo Vos
To explore a risk factor approach for identifying preventive interventions that require more in-depth economic assessment, including cost-effectiveness analyses.
A three-step approach was employed to: (i) identify the risk factors that contribute most substantially to disability-adjusted life years (DALYs); (ii) re-rank these risk factors based on the availability of effective preventive interventions warranting further cost-effectiveness analysis (and in some instances on evidence from existing cost-effectiveness analyses); and (iii) re-rank these risk factors in accordance with their relative contribution to health inequalities. Health inequalities between the Māori and non-Māori populations in New Zealand were used by way of illustration.
Seven of the top 10 risk factors prioritized for research on preventive interventions in New Zealand were also among the 10 risk factors most highly ranked as contributing to DALYs in high-income countries of the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Region. The final list of priority risk factors included tobacco use; alcohol use; high blood pressure; high blood cholesterol; overweight/obesity, and physical inactivity. All of these factors contributed to health inequalities. Effective interventions for preventing all of them are available, and for each risk factor there is at least one documented cost-saving preventive intervention.
The straightforward approach to prioritizing risk factors described in this paper may be applicable in many countries, and even in those countries that lack the capacity to perform additional cost-effectiveness analyses, this approach will still make it possible to determine which cost-effective interventions should be implemented in the short run.