White, P. et al. Journal of Public Health, 2018, doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdy026
Since 2013, local authorities in England have been responsible for commissioning preventative public health interventions. The aim of this systematic review was to support commissioning by collating published data on economic evaluations and modelling of local authority commissioned public health preventative interventions in the UK.
Following the PRISMA protocol, we searched for economic evaluations of preventative intervention studies in four different areas: overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol and illicit drugs use and smoking cessation. The systematic review identified studies between January 1994 and February 2015, using five databases. We synthesized the studies to identify the key methods and examined results of the economic evaluations.
The majority of the evaluations related to cost-effectiveness, rather than cost-benefit analyses or cost-utility analyses. These analyses found preventative interventions to be cost effective, though the context of the interventions differed between the studies.
Preventative public health interventions in general are cost-effective. There is a need for further studies to support justification of continued and/or increased funding for public health interventions. There is much variation between the types of economically evaluated preventative interventions in our review. Broader studies incorporating different contexts may help support funding for local authority-sponsored public health initiatives.