Background: A randomized controlled trial has shown that supervised, facility-based exercise training is effective in improving glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. However, these programs are associated with additional costs. This analysis assessed the cost-effectiveness of such programs.
Methods: Analysis used data from the Diabetes Aerobic and Resistance Exercise (DARE) clinical trial which compared three different exercise programs (resistance, aerobic or a combination of both) of 6 months duration with a control group (no exercise program). Clinical outcomes at 6 months were entered for individual patients into the UKPDS economic model for type 2 diabetes adapted for the Canadian context. From this, expected life-years, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and costs were estimated for all patients within the trial.
Results: The combined exercise program was the most expensive ($40,050) followed by the aerobic program ($39,250), the resistance program ($38,300) and no program ($31,075). QALYs were highest for combined (8.94), followed by aerobic (8.77), resistance (8.73) and no program (8.70). The incremental cost per QALY gained for the combined exercise program was $4,792 compared with aerobic alone, $8,570 compared with resistance alone, and $37,872 compared with no program. The combined exercise program remained cost-effective for all scenarios considered within sensitivity analysis.
Conclusions: A program providing training in both resistance and aerobic exercise was the most cost-effective of the alternatives compared. Based on previous funding decisions, exercise training for individuals with diabetes can be considered an efficient use of resources.