The cost effectiveness of tailored, postal feedback on general practitioners' prescribing of pharmacotherapies for alcohol dependence

Hector Jose Navarro, Anthony Shakeshaft, Christopher M. Doran, Dennis J. Petrie

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Aims: The aims of this study were to conduct a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of tailored, postal feedback on general practitioners' (GPs) prescribing of acamprosate and naltrexone for alcohol dependence relative to current practice and its impact on alcohol dependence morbidity. Methods: Rural communities in New South Wales, Australia, were randomised into experimental (N= 10) and control (N= 10) communities. Tailored feedback on their prescribing of alcohol pharmacotherapies was mailed to GPs from the experimental communities (N= 115). Segmented regression analysis was used to examine within and between group changes in prescribing and alcohol dependence hospitalisation rates compared to the control communities. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were estimated per additional prescription of pharmacotherapies and per alcohol dependence hospitalisation(s) averted. Results: Post-intervention changes, relative to the control communities, in GPs' prescribing rate trends in the experimental communities significantly increased for acamprosate (β= 0.24, 95% CI: 0.13-0.35, p < 0.001), and significantly decreased for naltrexone (β =−0.12, 95% CI:−0.17 to−0.06) per quarter. Quarterly hospitalisation trend rates for alcohol dependence, as principal diagnosis, significantly decreased(β =−0.07, 95% CI:−0.13 to−0.01, p < 0.05), compared to control communities. The median ICER per quarterly hospitalisation(s) averted due to intervention was Dominant (Dominant – $12,750).Conclusion: Postal, tailored feedback to GPs on their prescribing of acamprosate and naltrexone for alcohol dependence was a cost-effective intervention, in rural communities of NSW, to increase the overall prescribing of pharmacotherapies with a plausible effect on incidence reduction of hospitalisations for alcohol dependence as principal diagnosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Postal tailored feedback
  • Alcohol dependence
  • General practitioner
  • Cost-effectiveness

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