Economic Costs of Bads. © Allen C. Goodman, 2004. Leading Cause of Preventable Death in U.S. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and produces substantial health-related economic costs to society.
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© Allen C. Goodman, 2004
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Fleming and colleagues (2000) evaluated a brief intervention remedy to at-risk or problem drinking. The study was confined to problem drinkers, defined as men who consumed more than 14 drinks per week (168 g alcohol/week) and women who consumed more than 11 drinks per week (132 g alcohol/week).
There are six essential components to brief intervention. Physician:
1. States his/her concern.
2. Provides specific feedback to patients on how their drinking is affecting them (e.g. elevated blood pressure, liver function problems, family problems).
3. Gives a clear recommendation about changing patients’ alcohol use.
4. Negotiates a drinking contract.
5. Provides a self-help booklet
6. Establishes follow-up procedures.
Study team assessed the benefits and costs of brief intervention, including emergency room and outpatient and inpatient hospital use, automobile accidents and traffic violations, criminal activity, alcohol and substance use, and health status measures. The costs were measured for those who participated in the intervention. The benefits are reported as avoided costs, comparing the 392 study patients with a randomized control group (382 patients).
The researchers report a benefit-cost ratio of 5.6:1. The benefits included savings of $195 thousand in emergency room and hospital use and $228 thousand in avoided costs resulting from motor vehicle events and crime for a combined economic benefit of $1,151 per subject.
The estimated total economic cost of the intervention was $80 thousand or $205 per study patient.
Fleming MF, Mundt MP, French MT, Barry KL, Manwell LB, Stauffacher EA. 2000. Benefit-cost analysis of brief physician advice with problem drinkers in primary care settings. Medical Care 38 (1): 7-18.
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