The Peer Approaches to Lupus Self-management (PALS) program was developed as a peer mentoring tool to improve health behaviors, beliefs, and outcomes in African American women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This study aims to assess the cost of the PALS intervention and determine its effectiveness when compared to existing treatments.
Peer mentors and mentees were paired on shared criteria such as life stage, marital status, or whether they were mothers. This 12-week program consisted of a weekly peer mentoring session by telephone. Cost of healthcare utilization was evaluated by assessing the healthcare costs pre- and post-intervention. Validated measures of quality of life, self-management, disease activity, depression, and anxiety were collected. Total direct program costs per participant were totaled and used to determine average per unit improvement in outcome measures. The benefit-cost ratio and pre- versus post-intervention hospital charges were examined.
A total of 20 mentees and 7 mentors were enrolled in the PALS program. All PALS pairs completed 12 sessions lasting an average of 54 minutes. Mentees reported statistically significant decreases in patient-reported disease activity, depression, and anxiety, with improved trends in patient activation or patient engagement in their disease and management. The total cost per patient was $1291.50, which was $107.62 per patient per week. There was a savings of $23,417 per individual receiving the intervention with a benefit-cost ratio of 18.13 per patient.
These findings suggest that the PALS intervention was effective in improving patient-level factors and was cost-effective. Future research will need to validate these findings in a larger sample.