Dr. Jennifer Davis, trainee at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility (CHHM) and postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation with UBC’s School of Population and Public Health received the CIHR Age Plus Prize for one of her doctoral thesis papers.
Age Plus is designed to recognize excellence in research on aging carried out in Canada by graduate and postdoctoral students and residents in all fields and disciplines covered by the research priorities of the Institute of Aging.
Falls are a substantial public health problem in older adults in terms of incidence, health burden and health related costs. There is compelling evidence that falls are preventable; progressive resistance training is a component of effective exercise programs for falls prevention in older adults.
The importance of economics applied to the field of falls and falls prevention has largely been overlooked. Therefore, Dr. Davis designed a concurrent, prospective economic analysis using individual level data on cost and effectiveness outcomes as part of a study showing the importance of exercise for brain function.
CHHM researcher, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, was principal investigator for the Brain Power clinical trial. The primary objective for the economic evaluation was to determine two key measures of ‘value for money’ – called (i) the incremental cost effectiveness ratio and (ii) the incremental cost utility ratio (cost per fall prevented and cost per quality adjusted life year gained) from the exercise program.
The important discovery was that both resistance training interventions were more likely to save health care resource money and offer better health outcomes compared with programs that are commonly available in the community such as Tai Chi classes. Hence, this study demonstrated that once or twice weekly resistance training provided better value for money for falls prevention and combating cognitive decline compared with programs routinely available in the community.
Dr. Davis’ paper has two major impacts on the field of Aging: a research impact and a health policy impact.
This first economic evaluation of an exercise intervention aimed at combating cognitive decline and subsequently, falls, that included a global assessment of health related quality of life using the Euro-Qol-5D which is highly beneficial because such global assessment facilitates comparability across different fields.
Further, this is the first economic evaluation in the field of exercise and cognitive function that applied novel methods within the economic analyses. A key application of these findings would be for routinely implementing a resistance training program within the community targeted at older adults.
These findings have already received inquiry and led to a meeting with Provincial Minister of Health Services Kevin Falcon and at the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health.