Economic Contributions of Physical Activity Programs to the Publicly Funded Healthcare System
Posted: 21 Jun 2007
Date Written: May 2007
Chronic diseases place a substantial economic burden on the health care system. Total costs of illness, disability and death in Canada due to chronic diseases are more than $80 billion annually. Physical inactivity, poor diet and smoking are considered as the main causes of major chronic diseases. The evidence clearly supports the positive influence of physical activity on health determinants, other health outcomes and quality of life in older adults with chronic illnesses. This implies that an increase in physical activity improves general health status and has the potential to reduce utilization of expensive healthcare services and disability days. Earlier studies showed that physical activity programs would be an effective way of providing preventive care for older adults with chronic conditions. However, there is no study investigating the net economic contributions of different types of physical activity programming to the healthcare system. The aim of this paper is to examine the impacts of class based and home based physical activity programs on healthcare costs, and to estimate the net benefit from these programs. From 2002 to 2003, adults over the age of 50 years, in a mid-size Canadian city, presenting with overweight, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia or osteoarthritis were recruited. Following a screening process, eligible participants were randomly assigned to one the two programs. Validated questionnaires related to health status and quality of life were completed and physical tests were carried out at baseline, 3, 6, 12 month, and annually until year 4 post-intervention. In addition participants' use of physician and hospital services and pharmaceutical expenditures were accessed through their healthcare utilization files for five years, from one year before entrance into the study to four years after the intervention. Using healthcare expenditure data, measures of physical performance, function, physical activity, quality of life and health status, we will estimate the treatment effect for each program, and then extrapolate the net benefit from each intervention.
Keywords: Physical activity, treatment effect
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