BackgroundThe OptiBIRTH study incorporates a multicentre cluster randomised trial in 15 hospital sites across three European countries. The trial was designed to test a complex intervention aimed at improving vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC) rates through increasing women's involvement in their care. Prior to developing a robust standardised model to conduct the health economic analysis, an analysis of a hypothetical cohort was performed to estimate the costs and health effects of VBAC compared to elective repeat caesarean delivery (ERCD) for low-risk women in four European countries.
MethodsA decision-analytic model was developed to estimate the costs and the health effects, measured using Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs), of VBAC compared with ERCD. A cost-effectiveness analysis for the period from confirmation of pregnancy to 6 weeks postpartum was performed for short-term consequences and during lifetime for long-term consequences, based on a hypothetical cohort of 100,000 pregnant women in each of four different countries; Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Italy. A societal perspective was adopted. Where possible, transition probabilities, costs and health effects were adapted from national data obtained from the respective countries. Country-specific thresholds were used to determine the cost-effectiveness of VBAC compared to ERCD. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were conducted to examine the uncertainty of model assumptions.
ResultsWithin a 6-week time horizon, VBAC resulted in a reduction in costs, ranging from €3,334,052 (Germany) to €66,162,379 (Ireland), and gains in QALYs ranging from 6399 (Italy) to 7561 (Germany) per 100,000 women birthing in each country. Compared to ERCD, VBAC is the dominant strategy in all four countries. Applying a lifetime horizon, VBAC is dominant compared to ERCD in all countries except for Germany (probabilistic analysis, ICER: €8609/QALY). In conclusion, compared to ERCD, VBAC remains cost-effective when using a lifetime time.
ConclusionsIn all four countries, VBAC was cost-effective compared to ERCD for low-risk women. This is important for health service managers, economists and policy makers concerned with maximising health benefits within limited and constrained resources.
SUBMITTER: Fobelets M