Health Gain, Cost Impacts, and Cost-Effectiveness of a Mass Media Campaign to Promote Smartphone Apps for Physical Activity: Modeling Study.
Mizdrak A., Telfer K., Direito A., Cobiac LJ., Blakely T., Cleghorn CL., Wilson N.
BACKGROUND: Physical activity smartphone apps are a promising strategy to increase population physical activity, but it is unclear whether government mass media campaigns to promote these apps would be a cost-effective use of public funds. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to estimate the health impacts, costs, and cost-effectiveness of a one-off national mass media campaign to promote the use of physical activity apps. METHODS: We used an established multistate life table model to estimate the lifetime health gains (in quality-adjusted life years [QALYs]) that would accrue if New Zealand adults were exposed to a one-off national mass media campaign to promote physical activity app use, with a 1-year impact on physical activity, compared to business-as-usual. A health-system perspective was used to assess cost-effectiveness. and a 3% discount rate was applied to future health gains and health system costs. RESULTS: The modeled intervention resulted in 28 QALYs (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 8-72) gained at a cost of NZ $81,000/QALY (2018 US $59,500; 95% UI 17,000-345,000), over the remaining life course of the 2011 New Zealand population. The intervention had a low probability (20%) of being cost-effective at a cost-effectiveness threshold of NZ $45,000 (US $32,900) per QALY. The health impact and cost-effectiveness of the intervention were highly sensitive to assumptions around the maintenance of physical activity behaviors beyond the duration of the intervention. CONCLUSIONS: A mass media campaign to promote smartphone apps for physical activity is unlikely to generate much health gain or be cost-effective at the population level. Other investments to promote physical activity, particularly those that result in sustained behavior change, are likely to have greater health impacts.