Preventing Leading Causes of Death: Systematic Review of Cost-Utility Literature

Published:November 01, 2021DOI:


      Heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke are the 5 leading causes of death in the U.S. The objective of this review is to examine the economic value of prevention interventions addressing these 5 conditions.


      Tufts Medical Center Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry data were queried from 2010 to 2018 for interventions that addressed any of the 5 conditions in the U.S. Results were stratified by condition, prevention stage, type of intervention, study sponsorship, and study perspective. The analyses were conducted in 2020, and all costs were reported in 2019 dollars.


      In total, 549 cost-effectiveness analysis studies examined interventions addressing these 5 conditions in the U.S. Tertiary prevention interventions were assessed in 61.4%, whereas primary prevention was assessed in 8.6% of the studies. Primary prevention studies were predominantly funded by government, whereas industry sources funded more tertiary prevention studies, especially those dealing with pharmaceutical interventions. The median incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for the 5 conditions combined was $68,500 per quality-adjusted life year. Median incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were lowest for primary prevention and highest for tertiary prevention.


      Primary prevention may be more cost effective than secondary and tertiary prevention interventions; however, research investments in primary prevention interventions, especially by industry, lag in comparison. These findings help to highlight the gaps in the cost-effectiveness analysis literature related to the 5 leading causes of death and identify understudied interventions and prevention stages for each condition.
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