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Micro-Costing in Public Health Economics: Steps Towards a Standardized Framework, Using the Incredible Years Toddler Parenting Program as a Worked Example

Abstract

Complex interventions, such as parenting programs, are rarely evaluated from a public sector, multi-agency perspective. An exception is the Incredible Years (IY) Basic Parenting Program; which has a growing clinical and cost-effectiveness evidence base for preventing or reducing children’s conduct problems. The aim of this paper was to provide a micro-costing framework for use by future researchers, by micro-costing the 12-session IY Toddler Parenting Program from a public sector, multi-agency perspective. This micro-costing was undertaken as part of a community-based randomized controlled trial of the program in disadvantaged Flying Start areas in Wales, U.K. Program delivery costs were collected by group leader cost diaries. Training and supervision costs were recorded. Sensitivity analysis assessed the effects of a London cost weighting and group size. Costs were reported in 2008/2009 pounds sterling. Direct program initial set-up costs were £3305.73; recurrent delivery costs for the program based on eight parents attending a group were £752.63 per child, falling to £633.61 based on 10 parents. Under research contexts (with weekly supervision) delivery costs were £1509.28 per child based on eight parents, falling to £1238.94 per child based on 10 parents. When applying a London weighting, overall program costs increased in all contexts. Costs at a micro-level must be accurately calculated to conduct meaningful cost-effectiveness/cost-benefit analysis. A standardized framework for assessing costs is needed; this paper outlines a suggested framework. In prevention science it is important for decision makers to be aware of intervention costs in order to allocate scarce resources effectively.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the support from the Welsh Assembly Government, the Welsh Health Economics Support Service (WHESS) for financial and academic support for the PhD studentship to carry out this micro-costing, and also the group leaders, service managers & IY Wales Centre, Bangor University for providing cost information.

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Correspondence to J. M. Charles.

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ESM 1

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Supplementary Material Table 1

Total program costs from previous micro-costing exercises of parenting program. Costs are presented in their original published form, and as costs in Pounds Sterling inflated to 2008/09 costs. (DOC 39 kb)

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Charles, J.M., Edwards, R.T., Bywater, T. et al. Micro-Costing in Public Health Economics: Steps Towards a Standardized Framework, Using the Incredible Years Toddler Parenting Program as a Worked Example. Prev Sci 14, 377–389 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-012-0302-5

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Keywords

  • Prevention science
  • Economics
  • Parenting program
  • Disadvantage
  • Prevention
  • Flying Start
  • Children