Among people admitted for inpatient rehabilitation, is usual care plus standing balance circuit classes more cost-effective than usual care alone? To test this question the authors designed a cost-effectiveness study embedded within a randomised controlled trial with concealed allocation, assessor blinding and intention-to-treat analysis, involving 162 participants in Sydney.
The experimental group received a 1-hour standing balance circuit class, delivered three times a week for 2 weeks, in addition to usual therapy. The circuit classes were supervised by one physiotherapist and one physiotherapy assistant for up to eight patients. The control group received usual therapy alone.
Costs were estimated from routinely collected hospital use data in the 3 months after randomisation. The functional outcome measure was mobility measured at 3 months using the Short Physical Performance Battery administered by a blinded assessor. An incremental analysis was conducted and the joint probability distribution of costs and outcomes was examined using bootstrapping.
The median cost savings for the intervention group was AUD4,741 (95% CI 137 to 9,372) per participant; 94% of bootstraps showed that the intervention was both effective and cost saving. Two weeks of additional standing balance circuit classes delivered in addition to usual therapy resulted in decreased healthcare costs at 3 months in hospital inpatients admitted for rehabilitation. There is a high probability that this intervention is both cost saving and effective.