For patients with head and neck or lung cancer, stepped care programs (SC) to address psychological stress can reduce health care resource overutilization by first offering “effective yet least resource-intensive” treatment before stepping up treatment resource-intensity, when needed, according to a cost-utility study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

“SC is highly likely to be cost-effective,” reported lead study author Femke Jansen, the VU Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and coauthors. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were higher and cumulative costs lower for patients treated in SC compared to care-as-usual.

Among the 156 patients randomly assigned to receive SC or care-as-usual, the mean cumulative number of QALYs was 0.116 higher, and the cumulative costs were €3,950 (approximately $4,100 USD) lower for SC patients, the research team reported. Health-related quality of life was not significantly different between the two groups (P = .12, n.s.).

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1. Jansen F, Krebber AMH, Coupe VMH, et al. Cost-utility of stepped care targeting psychological distress in patients with head and neck or lung cancer. J Clin Oncol. December 5, 2016. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.68.8739. [Epub ahead of print]