Cost-effectiveness of the LIFE Physical Activity Intervention for Older Adults at Increased Risk for Mobility Disability

LIFE Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Losing the ability to walk safely and independently is a major concern for many older adults. The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders study recently demonstrated that a physical activity (PA) intervention can delay the onset of major mobility disability. Our objective is to examine the resources required to deliver the PA intervention and calculate the incremental cost-effectiveness compared with a health education intervention. Methods: The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders study enrolled 1,635 older adults at risk for mobility disability. They were recruited at eight field centers and randomly assigned to either PA or health education. The PA program consisted of 50-minute center-based exercise 2x weekly, augmented with home-based activity to achieve a goal of 150min/wk of PA. Health education consisted of weekly workshops for 26 weeks, and monthly sessions thereafter. Analyses were conducted from a health system perspective, with a 2.6-year time horizon. Results: The average cost per participant over 2.6 years was US$3,302 and US$1,001 for the PA and health education interventions, respectively. PA participants accrued 0.047 per person more Quality-Adjusted Life-Years (QALYs) than health education participants. PA interventions costs were slightly higher than other recent PA interventions. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were US$42,376/major mobility disability prevented and US$49,167/QALY. Sensitivity analyses indicated that results were relatively robust to varied assumptions. Conclusions: The PA intervention costs and QALYs gained are comparable to those found in other studies. The ICERS are less than many commonly recommended medical treatments. Implementing the intervention in non-research settings may reduce costs further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-662
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Older adults
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging


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