Long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods are highly effective in preventing unintended pregnancies. However, their uptake is low in much of the developed world. This study aimed at assessing the cost-effectiveness of LARC methods from the British National Health Service (NHS) perspective.METHODS
A decision-analytic model was constructed to estimate the relative cost-effectiveness of the copper intrauterine device (IUD), the levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS), the etonogestrel subdermal implant and the depot medroxyprogesterone acetate injection (DMPA). Comparisons with the combined oral contraceptive pill (COC) and female sterilization were also performed. Effectiveness data were derived from a systematic literature review. Costs were based on UK national sources and expert opinion.RESULTS
LARC methods dominated COC (i.e. they were more effective and less costly). Female sterilization dominated LARC methods beyond 5 years of contraceptive protection. DMPA and LNG-IUS were the least cost-effective LARC methods. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of implant (most effective LARC method) versus IUD (cheapest LARC method) was £13 206 per unintended pregnancy averted for 1 year of use and decreased until implant dominated IUD in 15 years. Discontinuation was a key determinant of the cost-effectiveness of LARC methods.CONCLUSIONS
LARC methods are cost-effective from the British NHS perspective. Practices improving user satisfaction and continuation of LARC method use should be identified and promoted.