Background Sickness absence costs the UK economy around £20 billion per year. This study aims to assess the cost-effectiveness of interventions to return employees with musculoskeletal disorders to work, one of the major causes of long-term sickness absence, using a mathematical model. Methods A Markov model was developed to assess the cost-effectiveness of three interventions: a workplace intervention; a physical activity and education intervention and a physical activity, education and workplace visit intervention. Extensive sensitivity analyses were undertaken to assess the impact of uncertainties upon the model results. Results All interventions assessed are estimated to have a cost per quality-adjusted life year gained below £3000 compared with usual care within the UK from a National Health Service (NHS) or societal perspective. Moreover, any intervention which returns at least an additional 3 of employees to work and costs less than an additional £3000 per employee, is likely to be considered economically attractive compared with usual care, relative to other interventions routinely funded by the NHS. Conclusions This is the first economic evaluation in this area which extrapolates data beyond trial follow-up and synthesizes evidence from numerous sources. This sort of modelling approach should be considered for informing other public health policy decisions. © 2012 The Author.
- musculoskeletal disorders