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Short-term and long-term cost-effectiveness of a pedometer-based exercise intervention in primary care: a within-trial analysis and beyond-trial modelling

18 Oct 2018


A short-term and long-term cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) of two pedometer-based walking interventions compared with usual care.


(A) Short-term CEA: parallel three-arm cluster randomised trial randomised by household. (B) Long-term CEA: Markov decision model.


Seven primary care practices in South London, UK.


(A) Short-term CEA: 1023 people (922 households) aged 45–75 years without physical activity (PA) contraindications. (b) Long-term CEA: a cohort of 100 000 people aged 59–88 years.


Pedometers, 12-week walking programmes and PA diaries delivered by post or through three PA consultations with practice nurses.

Primary and secondary outcome measures

Accelerometer-measured change (baseline to 12 months) in average daily step count and time in 10 min bouts of moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA), and EQ-5D-5L quality-adjusted life-years (QALY).


Resource use costs (£2013/2014) from a National Health Service perspective, presented as incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for each outcome over a 1-year and lifetime horizon, with cost-effectiveness acceptability curves and willingness to pay per QALY. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses evaluate uncertainty.


(A) Short-term CEA: At 12 months, incremental cost was £3.61 (£109)/min in ≥10 min MVPA bouts for nurse support compared with control (postal group). At £20 000/QALY, the postal group had a 50% chance of being cost saving compared with control. (B) Long-term CEA: The postal group had more QALYs (+759 QALYs, 95% CI 400 to 1247) and lower costs (–£11 million, 95% CI –12 to –10) than control and nurse groups, resulting in an incremental net monetary benefit of £26 million per 100 000 population. Results were sensitive to reporting serious adverse events, excluding health service use, and including all participant costs.


Postal delivery of a pedometer intervention in primary care is cost-effective long term and has a 50% chance of being cost-effective, through resource savings, within 1 year. Further research should ascertain maintenance of the higher levels of PA, and its impact on quality of life and health service use.

Trial registration number

ISRCTN98538934; Pre-results.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open