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This review aims to assess the cost-effectiveness of psychological interventions for schizophrenia/bipolar disorder (BD), to determine the robustness of current evidence and identify gaps in the available evidence.
Electronic searches (PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Embase) identified economic evaluations relating incremental cost to outcomes in the form of an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio published in English since 2000. Searches were concluded in November 2018. Inclusion criteria were: adults with schizophrenia/BD; any psychological/psychosocial intervention (e.g., psychological therapy and integrated/collaborative care); probability of cost-effectiveness at explicitly defined thresholds reported. Comparators could be routine practice, no intervention, or alternative psychological therapies. Screening, data extraction, and critical appraisal were performed using pre-specified criteria and forms. Results were summarized qualitatively. The protocol was registered on the PROSPERO database (CRD42017056579).
Of 3,864 studies identified, 12 met the criteria for data extraction. All were integrated clinical and economic randomized controlled trials. The most common intervention was cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT, 6/12 studies). The most common measure of health benefit was the quality-adjusted life-year (6/12). Follow-up ranged from 6 months to 5 years. Interventions were found to be cost-effective in most studies (9/12): the probability of cost-effectiveness ranged from 35-99.5 percent. All studies had limitations and demonstrated uncertainty (particularly related to incremental costs).
Most studies concluded psychological interventions for schizophrenia/BD are cost-effective, including CBT, although there was notable uncertainty. Heterogeneity across studies makes it difficult to reach strong conclusions. There is a particular need for more evidence in the population with BD and for longer-term evidence across both populations.
Research suggests that a significant minority of hospital in-patients could be more appropriately supported in the community if enhanced services were available. However, little is known about these individuals or the services they require.
To identify which individuals require what services, at what cost.
A ‘balance of care’ (BoC) study was undertaken in northern England. Drawing on routine electronic data about 315 admissions categorised into patient groups, frontline practitioners identified patients whose needs could be met in alternative settings and specified the services they required, using a modified nominal group approach. Costing employed a public-sector approach.
Community care was deemed appropriate for approximately a quarter of admissions including people with mild-moderate depression, an eating disorder or personality disorder, and some people with schizophrenia. Proposed community alternatives drew heavily on carer support services, community mental health teams and consultants, and there was widespread consensus on the need to increase out-of-hours community services. The costs of the proposed community care were relatively modest compared with hospital admission. On average social care costs increased by approximately £60 per week, but total costs fell by £1626 per week.
The findings raise strategic issues for both national policymakers and local service planners. Patients who could be managed at home can be characterised by diagnosis. Although potential financial savings were identified, the reported cost differences do not directly equate to cost savings. It is not clear whether in-patient beds could be reduced. However, existing beds could be more efficiently used.
Declaration of interest
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