Study: Cost-Effectiveness of Preventive Interventions to Reduce Alcohol Consumption in Denmark

New study from Denmark confirms that interventions targeting the whole population are more effective than individual-focused interventions. A ban on alcohol advertising, limited hours of retail sale and increased taxation had the highest probability of being cost-saving and should thus be first priority for implementation.

Study authors (Astrid Ledgaard Holm and Finn Diderichsen from University of Copenhagen, Lennert Veerman and Linda Cobiac from The University of Queensland and Ola Ekholm from University of Southern Denmark) analysed the cost-effectiveness of six interventions aimed at preventing alcohol abuse in the adult Danish population: 30% increased taxation, increased minimum legal drinking age, advertisement bans, limited hours of retail sales, and brief and longer individual interventions. Potential health effects were evaluated as changes in incidence, prevalence and mortality of alcohol-related diseases and injuries. Net costs were calculated as the sum of intervention costs and cost offsets related to treatment of alcohol-related outcomes, based on health care costs from Danish national registers. Cost-effectiveness was evaluated by calculating incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for each intervention. They also created an intervention pathway to determine the optimal sequence of interventions and their combined effects.

Three of the analysed interventions (advertising bans, limited hours of retail sales and taxation) were cost-saving, and the remaining three interventions were all cost-effective. Net costs varied from € -17 million per year for advertisement ban to € 8 million for longer individual intervention. Effectiveness varied from 115 disability-adjusted life years (DALY) per year for minimum legal drinking age to 2,900 DALY for advertisement ban. The total annual effect if all interventions were implemented would be 7,300 DALY, with a net cost of € -30 million.

The whole study is available in PLOSone.org