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Keywords:

  • oral health;
  • behavioral interventions;
  • costs;
  • cost-effectiveness;
  • financial sustainability

Abstract

Background: Broad adoption of interventions that prove effective in randomized clinical trials or comparative effectiveness research may depend to a great extent on their costs and cost-effectiveness (CE). Many studies of behavioral health interventions for oral health promotion and disease prevention lack robust economic assessments of costs and CE.

Objective: To describe methodologies employed to assess intervention costs, potential savings, net costs, CE, and the financial sustainability of behavioral health interventions to promote oral health.

Methods: We provide an overview of terminology and strategies for conducting economic evaluations of behavioral interventions to improve oral health based on the recommendations of the Panel of Cost-Effectiveness in Health and Medicine. To illustrate these approaches, we summarize methodologies and findings from a limited number of published studies. The strategies include methods for assessing intervention costs, potential savings, net costs, CE, and financial sustainability from various perspectives (e.g., health-care provider, health system, health payer, employer, society). Statistical methods for estimating short-term and long-term economic outcomes and for examining the sensitivity of economic outcomes to cost parameters are described.

Discussion: Through the use of established protocols for evaluating costs and savings, it is possible to assess and compare intervention costs, net costs, CE, and financial sustainability. The addition of economic outcomes to outcomes reflecting effectiveness, appropriateness, acceptability, and organizational sustainability strengthens evaluations of oral health interventions and increases the potential that those found to be successful in research settings will be disseminated more broadly.