A systematic review of economic evaluations of conservative treatments for chronic lower extremity musculoskeletal complaints

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Objective. The aim was to appraise and synthesize studies evaluating the clinical and cost effectiveness of conservative interventions for chronic lower extremity musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions and describe their characteristics, including the type of economic evaluation, primary outcomes and which conditions. Methods. The search strategy related to economic evaluations of lower limb MSK conditions that used conservative therapies. Eight electronic databases were searched (CENTRAL, MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDro, NHSEED and Proquest), as were the reference lists from included articles. The quality of articles was appraised using a modified version of the economic evaluations' reporting checklist (economic) and The Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias (clinical). Results. Twenty-six studies were eligible and included in the review. Economic evaluations of conservative interventions for OA or pain affecting the knee/hip (n=25; 93%) were most common. The main approaches adopted were cost-utility analysis (n=17; 68%) or cost-effectiveness analysis (n=5; 19%). Two studies involved interventions including footwear/foot orthoses; for heel pain (n=1; 4%) and overuse injuries (n=1; 4%). Fifty per cent of economic evaluations adopted the EQ-5D-3L as the primary outcome measure for quality of life and quality-adjusted life year calculations. Conclusion. Economic evaluations have been conducted largely for exercise-based interventions for MSK conditions of the hip and knee. Few economic evaluations have been conducted for other clinically important lower limb MSK conditions. A matrix presentation of costs mapped with outcomes indicated increasing costs with either no difference or improvements in clinical effectiveness. The majority of economic evaluations were of good reporting quality, as were the accompanying clinical studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalRheumatology Advances in Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2018


  • Conservative interventions
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Economic evaluation
  • Lower extremity musculoskeletal conditions
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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