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The cost of a patient activation intervention for achieving successful outcomes: results from the PAADRN randomized controlled trial



In a large, pragmatic clinical trial, we calculated the costs of achieving four successful patient-centered outcomes using a tailored patient activation DXA result letter accompanied by a bone health brochure. The cost to achieve one successful outcome (e.g., a 0.5 standard deviation improvement in care satisfaction) ranged from $127.41 to $222.75.


Pragmatic randomized controlled trials (RCTs) should focus on patient-centered outcomes and report the costs for achieving those outcomes. We calculated per person incremental intervention costs, the number-needed-to-treat (NNT), and incremental per patient costs (cost per NNT) for four patient-centered outcomes in a direct-to-patient bone healthcare intervention.


The Patient Activation after DXA Result Notification (PAADRN) pragmatic RCT enrolled 7749 patients presenting for DXA at three health centers between February 2012 and August 2014. Interviews occurred at baseline and 52 weeks post-DXA. Intervention subjects received an individually tailored DXA result letter accompanied by an educational bone health brochure 4 weeks post-DXA, while the usual care subjects did not. Outcomes focused on patients (a) correctly identifying their results, (b) contacting their providers, (c) discussing their results with their providers, and (d) satisfaction with their bone healthcare. NNTs were determined using intention-to-treat linear probability models, per person incremental intervention costs were calculated, and costs per NNT were computed.


Mean age was 66.6 years old, 83.8% were women, and 75.3% were non-Hispanic whites. The incremental per patient cost (costs per NNT) to increase the ability of a patient to (a) correctly identify their DXA result was $171.07; (b) contact their provider about their DXA result was $222.75; (c) discuss their DXA result with their provider was $193.55; and (d) achieve a 0.5 SD improvement in satisfaction with their bone healthcare was $127.41.


An individually tailored DXA result letter accompanied by an educational brochure can improve four patient-centered outcomes at a modest cost.

Trial registration identifier NCT01507662

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to F. D. Wolinsky.

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This work was supported by R01 AG033035 (Cram/Wolinsky) from the NIA at NIH. Dr. Cram is supported by a K24 AR062133 award from NIAMS at the NIH. Dr. Saag is supported by a K24 AR052361 award from the NIAMS at the NIH.

Conflict of interest

F. D. Wolinsky, Y. Lou, S. F. Hall, S. W. Edmonds, D. W. Roblin, M. P. Jones, and P. Cram, have no conflicts of interest. N. C. Wright has received unrestricted grant support from Amgen for work unrelated to this project. K. G. Saag has received grants from Amgen, Eli Lilly and Merck and has served as a paid consultant to Amgen, Eli Lilly, and Merck unrelated to this project.

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Wolinsky, F.D., Hall, S.F., Lou, Y. et al. The cost of a patient activation intervention for achieving successful outcomes: results from the PAADRN randomized controlled trial. Osteoporos Int 28, 3061–3066 (2017).

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  • Clinical trials
  • Costs
  • DXA
  • Osteoporosis
  • Patient activation