Effectiveness, Cost-effectiveness, and Cost-Utility of a Digital Alcohol Moderation Intervention for Cancer Survivors: Health Economic Evaluation and Outcomes of a Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial

Ajla Mujcic, Matthijs Blankers, Brigitte Boon, Anne H. Berman, Heleen Riper, Margriet van Laar, Rutger Engels

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Background: Alcohol moderation (AM) interventions may contribute to better treatment outcomes and the general well-being of cancer survivors. Objective: This study evaluates the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and cost-utility of MyCourse, a digital AM intervention, compared with a noninteractive digital information brochure for cancer survivors. Methods: A health economic evaluation alongside a pragmatic 2-arm parallel-group randomized controlled trial was conducted with follow-ups at 3, 6, and 12 months after randomization. The study was conducted on the web in the Netherlands from 2016 to 2019. Participants were adult 10-year cancer survivors drinking over the Dutch-recommended drinking guidelines (≤7 standard units [10 g of alcohol] per week) with the intention to moderate or quit drinking. Overall, 103 participants were randomized and analyzed: 53 (51.5%) in the MyCourse group and 50 (48.5%) in the control group. In the MyCourse group, participants had access to a newly developed, digital, minimally guided AM intervention, MyCourse–Moderate Drinking. The primary outcome was the self-reported number of standard drinks (10 g of ethanol) consumed in the past 7 days at the 6-month follow-up. The secondary outcome measures were alcohol-related problems as measured by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and treatment satisfaction. For the health economic evaluation, health care costs, costs because of productivity losses, and intervention costs were assessed over a 12-month horizon. Results: Alcohol use at the 6-month follow-up decreased by 38% in the MyCourse group and by 33% in the control group. No difference in 7-day alcohol use was found between the groups (B=2.1, 95% CI −7.6 to 3.1; P=.22) at any of the follow-ups. AUDIT scores for alcohol-related problems decreased over time in both groups, showing no significant difference between the groups (Cohen d=0.3, 95% CI −0.1 to 0.6; P=.21). Intervention costs per participant were estimated at US $279 for the MyCourse group and US $74 for the control group. The mean societal costs were US $18,092 (SD 25,662) and US $23,496 (SD 34,327), respectively. The MyCourse group led to fewer gained quality-adjusted life years at lower societal costs in the cost-utility analysis. In the cost-effectiveness analysis, the MyCourse group led to a larger reduction in drinking units over time at lower societal costs (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio per reduced drink: US $ −1158, 95% CI −1609 to −781). Conclusions: At 6 months, alcohol use was reduced by approximately one-third in both groups, with no significant differences between the digital intervention MyCourse and a noninteractive web-based brochure. At 12 months, cost-effectiveness analyses showed that MyCourse led to a larger reduction in drinking units over time, at lower societal costs. The MyCourse group led to marginally fewer gained quality-adjusted life years, also at lower societal costs. Trial Registration: Netherlands Trial Register NTR6010; https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/5433 International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): RR2-10.1186/s12885-018-4206-z

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30095
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Alcohol
  • Brief interventions
  • Cancer survivors
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • EHealth
  • Effectiveness
  • Mobile phone

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