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Economics of Community Health Workers for Chronic Disease: Findings From Community Guide Systematic Reviews

      Context

      Cardiovascular disease in the U.S. accounted for healthcare cost and productivity losses of $330 billion in 2013–2014 and diabetes accounted for $327 billion in 2017. The impact is disproportionate on minority and low-SES populations. This paper examines the available evidence on cost, economic benefit, and cost effectiveness of interventions that engage community health workers to prevent cardiovascular disease, prevent type 2 diabetes, and manage type 2 diabetes.

      Evidence acquisition

      Literature from the inception of databases through July 2016 was searched for studies with economic information, yielding nine studies in cardiovascular disease prevention, seven studies in type 2 diabetes prevention, and 13 studies in type 2 diabetes management. Analyses were done in 2017. Monetary values are reported in 2016 U.S. dollars.

      Evidence synthesis

      The median intervention cost per patient per year was $329 for cardiovascular disease prevention, $600 for type 2 diabetes prevention, and $571 for type 2 diabetes management. The median change in healthcare cost per patient per year was –$82 for cardiovascular disease prevention and –$72 for type 2 diabetes management. For type 2 diabetes prevention, one study saw no change and another reported –$1,242 for healthcare cost. One study reported a favorable 1.8 return on investment from engaging community health workers for cardiovascular disease prevention. Median cost per quality-adjusted life year gained was $17,670 for cardiovascular disease prevention, $17,138 (mean) for type 2 diabetes prevention, and $35,837 for type 2 diabetes management.

      Conclusions

      Interventions engaging community health workers are cost effective for cardiovascular disease prevention and type 2 diabetes management, based on a conservative $50,000 benchmark for cost per quality-adjusted life year gained. Two cost per quality-adjusted life year estimates for type 2 diabetes prevention were far below the $50,000 benchmark.
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