Revisiting the cost-effectiveness of universal cervical length screening: importance of progesterone efficacy

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Abstract

Background:

Preterm birth (PTB) is a significant cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Studies have shown that vaginal progesterone therapy for women diagnosed with shortened cervical length can reduce the risk of PTB. However, published cost-effectiveness analyses of vaginal progesterone for short cervix have not considered an appropriate range of clinically important parameters.

Objective:

To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of universal cervical length screening in women without a history of spontaneous PTB, assuming that all women with shortened cervical length receive progesterone to reduce the likelihood of PTB.

Study Design:

A decision analysis model was developed to compare universal screening and no-screening strategies. The primary outcome was the cost-effectiveness ratio of both the strategies, defined as the estimated patient cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) realized by the children. One-way sensitivity analyses were performed by varying progesterone efficacy to prevent PTB. A probabilistic sensitivity analysis was performed to address uncertainties in model parameter estimates.

Results:

In our base-case analysis, assuming that progesterone reduces the likelihood of PTB by 11%, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for screening was $158,000/QALY. Sensitivity analyses show that these results are highly sensitive to the presumed efficacy of progesterone to prevent PTB. In a 1-way sensitivity analysis, screening results in cost-saving if progesterone can reduce PTB by 36%. Additionally, for screening to be cost-effective at WTP=$60,000 in three clinical scenarios, progesterone therapy has to reduce PTB by 60%, 34% and 93%. Screening is never cost-saving in the worst-case scenario or when serial ultrasounds are employed, but could be cost-saving with a two-day hospitalization only if progesterone were 64% effective.

Conclusion:

Cervical length screening and treatment with progesterone is a not a dominant, cost-effective strategy unless progesterone is more effective than has been suggested by available data for US women. Until future trials demonstrate greater progesterone efficacy, and effectiveness studies confirm a benefit from screening and treatment, the cost-effectiveness of universal cervical length screening in the United States remains questionable.

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