Objectives: Shoulder complaints (SCs) constitute the second largest group of musculoskeletal disorders after low back pain. The economic burden in terms of costs of healthcare use and costs due to work absenteeism underlines the need for a cost-effectiveness analysis of the interventions involved. The education and activation program (EAP) is a newly developed early intervention to prevent the development of chronic SCs. A cost-effectiveness analysis should provide more information on the effect of an EAP on total costs related to SCs.
Methods: We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis alongside a randomized clinical trial comparing the effectiveness of the EAP in addition to usual care (EAP group) with that of usual care alone (UC group) in terms of preventing chronicity in patients with acute SCs. The aim of the cost-effectiveness analysis was to compare the observed difference in costs with the clinical effectiveness (i.e., patient-perceived recovery after 26 weeks), using bootstraps.
Results: The comparison of total costs between treatment groups showed no significant (p = .077) difference after 26 weeks. The majority (82 percent) of the cost-effect pairs after bootstrap analysis were located in the northeast quadrant, suggesting more effect but at higher costs.
Conclusions: In view of the clinical relevance of the clinical outcomes and the considerable costs needed to achieve this, it can be concluded that the EAP is currently not cost-effective.