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Original Article
August 2005

Cost-effectiveness of Evidence-Based Pharmacotherapy or Cognitive Behavior Therapy Compared With Community Referral for Major Depression in Predominantly Low-Income Minority Women

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Center for Health Outcomes Research, MEDTAP Institute, Bethesda, Md (Drs Revicki and Frank and Ms Prasad); Department of Psychiatry, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC (Drs Revicki, Frank, Chung, Green, and Krupnick); and Health Services Research Center, Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of California, Los Angeles (Mr Siddique and Dr Miranda).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(8):868-875. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.8.868

Background  Few clinical trials have evaluated interventions for major depressive disorder in samples of low-income minority women, and little is known about the cost-effectiveness of depression interventions for this population.

Objective  To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of pharmacotherapy or cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) compared with community referral for major depression in low-income minority women.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A randomized clinical trial was conducted in 267 women with current major depression.

Interventions  Participants were randomly assigned to pharmacotherapy (paroxetine hydrochloride or bupropion hydrochloride) (n = 88), CBT (n = 90), or community referral (n = 89).

Main Outcome Measures  The main outcomes were intervention and health care costs, depression-free days, and quality-adjusted life years based on Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores and Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey summary scores for 12 months. Cost-effectiveness ratios were estimated to compare incremental patient outcomes with incremental costs for pharmacotherapy relative to community referral and for CBT relative to community referral.

Results  Compared with the community referral group, the pharmacotherapy group had significantly lower adjusted mean Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores from the 3rd month through the 10th month (P = .04 to P<.001) of the study, and the CBT group had significantly lower adjusted mean scores from the 5th month through the 10th month (P = .03 to P = .049). There were significantly more depression-free days in the pharmacotherapy group (mean, 39.7; 95% confidence interval, 12.9-66.5) and the CBT group (mean, 25.80; 95% confidence interval, 0.04-51.50) than in the community referral group. The cost per additional depression-free day was $24.65 for pharmacotherapy and $27.04 for CBT compared with community referral.

Conclusions  Effective treatment for depression in low-income minority women reduces depressive symptoms but increases costs compared with community referral. The pharmacotherapy and CBT interventions were cost-effective relative to community referral for the health care system.