John F. Dickerson
Depression-related health care costs for teenagers who received cognitive behavioral therapy averaged about $5,000 less over a 2-year period vs. those who received treatment as usual, according to findings recently reported by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.
Researchers analyzed cost-effectiveness of CBT among 212 patients aged 12 to 18 who were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to treatment-as-usual or treatment-as-usual plus brief individual CBT. All participants were depressed and had recently abruptly ceased or declined using antidepressants.
CBT consisted of a two-module session centered on discussing behavior changes and/or unrealistic thinking. The participants picked their beginning module and could stop after finishing when they reached recovery specifications. A master’s level therapist provided the CBT and up to six continuation calls were provided to patients on an as-needed basis.
Dickerson and colleagues found the participants engaged in CBT had 26.8 more depression-free days (P =. 044) and 0.067 more quality-adjusted life years (P = .044) on average compared with the control group during the course of a year. In addition, total costs averaged $4,976 less (P = .025) in 2008 dollars in the CBT participants by the end of 2 years. The findings stayed the same across sensitivity analyses.
“We previously demonstrated that CBT improved outcomes for depressed teens, and now we know that CBT can be cost-effective as well,” John F. Dickerson, PhD, a health economist and biostatistician at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research told Healio Family Medicine. “For physicians who endeavor to practice evidence-based medicine, these are important considerations that could help them improve the quality of advice and treatment they offer to patients.”
“There’s a common perception that CBT and other types of counseling are expensive,” he continued. Certainly, there is cost involved in delivering CBT. But our study suggests that CBT can be a very worthwhile investment.” – by Janel Miller
The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.