Question Is an intensive lifestyle intervention for type 2 diabetes associated with long-term health care use and Medicare spending?
Findings This ancillary study of a randomized clinical trial linked 2796 participants with type 2 diabetes in a randomized intensive lifestyle intervention with Medicare data. Among linked participants, the intervention was associated with reduced weight, improved diabetes control, and reduced health care costs during the intervention, but there was no reduction in total health care spending after the intervention.
Meaning These findings suggest that intensive lifestyle interventions targeted to patients with type 2 diabetes may need to be sustained to reduce long-term health care spending.
Importance Intensive lifestyle interventions focused on diet and exercise can reduce weight and improve diabetes management. However, the long-term effects on health care use and spending are unclear, especially for public payers.
Objective To estimate the association of effective intensive lifestyle intervention for weight loss with long-term health care use and Medicare spending.
Design, Setting, and Participants This ancillary study used data from the Look AHEAD randomized clinical trial, which randomized participants with type 2 diabetes to an intensive lifestyle intervention or control group (ie, diabetes support and education), provided ongoing intervention from 2001 to 2012, and demonstrated improved diabetes management and reduced health care costs during the intervention. This study compared Medicare data between study arms from 2012 to 2015 to determine whether the intervention was associated with persistent reductions in health care spending.
Exposure Starting in 2001, Look AHEAD’s intervention group participated in sessions with lifestyle counselors, dieticians, exercise specialists, and behavioral therapists with the goal of reducing weight 7% in the first year. Sessions occurred weekly in the first 6 months of the intervention and decreased over the intervention period. The controls participated in periodic group education sessions that occurred 3 times per year in the first year and decreased to 1 time per year later in the trial.
Main Outcomes and Measures Outcomes included total Medicare spending, Part D prescription drug costs, Part A and Part B Medicare spending, hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and disability-related Medicare eligibility.
Results This study matched Medicare administrative records for 2796 Look AHEAD study participants (54% of 5145 participants initially randomized and 86% of 3246 participants consenting to linkages). Linked intervention and control participants were of a similar age (mean [SD] age, 59.6 [5.4] years vs 59.6 [5.5] years at randomization) and sex (818 [58.1%] women vs 822 [59.3%] women). There was no statistically significant difference in total Medicare spending between groups (difference, −$133 [95% CI, −$1946 to $1681]; P = .89). In the intervention group, compared with the control group, there was statistically significantly higher Part B spending (difference, $513 [95% CI, $70 to $955]; P = .02) but lower prescription drug costs (difference, −$803 [95% CI, −$1522 to −$83]; P = .03).
Conclusions and Relevance This ancillary study of a randomized clinical trial found that reductions in health care use and spending associated with an intensive lifestyle intervention for type 2 diabetes diminished as participants aged. Intensive lifestyle interventions may need to be sustained to reduce long-term health care spending.
The full study can be found at here.
Citation: Huckfeldt, P. J., Frenier, C., Pajewski, N. M., Espeland, M., Peters, A., Casanova, R., … & Goldman, D. P. (2020). Associations of Intensive Lifestyle Intervention in Type 2 Diabetes With Health Care Use, Spending, and Disability: An Ancillary Study of the Look AHEAD Study. JAMA Network Open, 3(11), e2025488-e2025488.