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Beat It: The Social Return on Investment (SROI)

Beat It: The Social Return on Investment (SROI)

In Australia, the total economic cost of diabetes is estimated at $14.6 billion per year1. Adults over the age of 60 years have the highest prevalence of diabetes with type 2 diabetes, accounting for 85-90% of all diabetes cases2-4. An approximate of 1.8 million Australians are living with diabetes, with an estimated 500,000 of these people living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes3.

Beat It program

Beat It is a community-based physical activity and lifestyle program, known to significantly improve physical fitness, a range of clinical measures and psychosocial outcomes for people living with diabetes5.

Beat It and the social return on investment (SROI)

Using the Social Return on Investment (SROI) method, The Incus Group* independently conducted an evaluation of the program. The use of this framework was aimed to help in identifying the social impact and cost-benefit of 139 face-to-face (F2F) and 112 online Beat It programs held from January 2020- June 2021.

Through the use of monetary values to represent the social value, the SROI was used to better understand the value of the program by comparing its benefits to the resources invested.

Beat It program outcomes and benefits

Using appropriate indicators, the following outcomes/benefits were determined:

At an individual participant level:

  • Reduction in cardio-metabolic risk and improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness
  • Functional independence and increased diabetes self-efficacy
  • Reduction in long-term diabetes-related complications
  • Greater social engagement and sense of connection
  • Reduction in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses
  • Increased digital engagement
  • Improved quality of life

At a health system level:

  • Reduction in GP visits
  • Averted hospitalisation or emergency room presentations
  • Reduction in long-term diabetes-related complications

The analysis found that for every $1 invested in F2F program delivery, between 3.5 and 6.5 worth of social benefit was generated. As for the online program delivery, the social benefit generated was between 2.2 and 4.5 for every $1 invested.  This indicates the Beat It program is generating more social value than it is costing to deliver the program.

The results indicate a per participant value of approximately $800 for individuals over a one-year period and $1800 for the healthcare system over a three-year period. The findings suggested the total value generated across 139 F2F programs was $2.6 million and for 112 online programs, $1.05 million.

From a program engagement perspective, the online format attracted a greater proportion of people living with type 1 diabetes (17% online vs 7% F2F) and people living with type 2 diabetes comprising 93% of F2F and 83% of online cohorts respectively.

Improvements in diet and incidental activity were acknowledged by approximately 60-80% of participants and 40% confirming they felt an increased sense of social connection since starting the program. As for the amount (magnitude) of change for the participant level indicators, it was mostly consistent across both online and F2F programs (see Appendix A). Overall participants attributed changes in their level of physical activity, general health and overall quality of life to the Beat It programs which also reflects the increase in self-efficacy through such changes in lifestyle (see Appendix B).

Whilst the social and economic analysis demonstrates the effectiveness of the Beat It programs in achieving improved outcomes, a few recommendations are worth noting:

  • The continuation of the Beat It programs will significantly increase positive health and economic impacts on the broader health system and people living with diabetes.
  • Through capacity building, the existing subcontractor delivery model, which utilises Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Physiotherapists could be efficiently upscaled on a national level for wider accessibility.
  • Strengthening digital engagement strategies for target audiences, particularly those with type 1 diabetes will increase program engagement even further. Whilst having flexible program timings could attract the younger type 2 diabetes population.
  • Ongoing participant feedback on community engagement and social inclusion beyond the context of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions will help distinguish any confounding effects.

The Beat It program is delivered as part of the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS). The NDSS is an Australian Government Initiative administered by Diabetes Australia.

For more information about the Beat It program visit the NDSS website, Diabetes NSW&ACT or Diabetes Queensland website.

*The Incus Group is an independent purpose-driven consultancy operated by a team of sustainability advisory professionals with substantial experience and expertise in helping organisations to create, measure and report social, environmental and economic impact.

Appendix A – Magnitude of change in outcomes for participants

Appendix B – Proportions experiencing change in select indicators

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  1. Lee C, Colagiuri R, Magliano D, Cameron A, Shaw J, Zimmet P et al. The cost of diabetes in adults in Australia. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2013;99(3):385-390.
  2. National Diabetes Services Scheme. All types of diabetes. 2021 [cited 7 November 2021]. Available from: https://www.ndss.com.au/wp-content/uploads/ndss-data-snapshot-202109-all-types-of-diabetes.pdf
  3. Diabetes Australia. Diabetes in Australia. 2021 [cited 7 November 2021]. Available from: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/diabetes-in-australia/
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Health Survey: First Results, 2014–2015—Australia; ABS: Canberra, Australia, 2015
  5. Kirwan M, Chiu C, Hay M, Laing T. Community-Based Exercise and Lifestyle Program Improves Health Outcomes in Older Adults with Type 2 Diabetes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021;18(11):6147.