That is essentially the question investigated in the Aug. 8 issue of JAMA, which evaluates whether it is cost-effective for men to receive bone densitometry screenings and possibly take medication. (Currently women 65 and older are recommended to undergo such scans and many physicians prescribe drugs such as bisphosphonates for women found to have osteoporosis or even the precursor condition, osteopenia.)
The study analyzed the difference in quality years between the men who took such measures and those who had no intervention. The results were that such measures were not cost-effective for men over 70 overall regardless of fracture history, but could be worth it for men over 65 with a past fracture or all those over 80. But the study assumed that each "quality-adjusted life-year" was worth $50,000.
Obviously, certain parameters had to be picked for the purposes of the research, and ths arbitrary-seeming figure surely has a sound basis. But it raises still more profound questons about ourselves as a society, which are how much are we willing to pay for quality of life? And most significantly, who determines exactly what "quality-adjusted life-years" consist of?
Read more on this study at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-08/jaaj-osa080207.php.
Published On: August 09, 2007