Relative to the oral contraceptive pill, uptake of long‐acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARCs) in Australia continues to be lower than might be suggested by the evidence on their clinical and economic benefits.
To undertake a critical appraisal of published economic evaluations of LARCs to assess the generalisability of their results to the Australian healthcare context.
Materials and Methods
A search of the literature was conducted to identify studies of economic evaluations of LARCs using the Medline, Embase and PubMed databases. The quality of the studies was evaluated using the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS) checklist.
A total of 1009 citations were screened, from which 20 papers, typically reporting the cost per pregnancy avoided, were reviewed. The overall quality of the studies varied but was generally poor (average score of 62/100). To aid comparisons, results have been grouped under the headings IUS (all hormonal intrauterine systems), IUDs (all non‐hormonal intrauterine devices), injectables (all contraceptive injections) and implants (all subdermal contraceptive implants). Overall, the results indicated that LARCs were more effective and less costly than oral contraceptives.
Despite evidence that LARCs represent value for money, limitations in study quality and approaches must be taken into account when applying these results to Australia. Differences in healthcare settings aside, LARCs may also have benefits beyond their effect on pregnancy that might be captured in broader analyses, such as cost‐benefit analyses using willingness to pay methods. These would capture benefits beyond health, which seem to be particularly relevant to contraception.