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Maternal depression is a notable concern, yet little evidence exists on its economic burden in low- and middle-income countries.
This study assessed societal costs and economic outcomes across pregnancy to 12 months postpartum comparing women with depression with those without depression. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01977326 (registered on 24 October 2013); Pan African Clinical Trials Registry (www.pactr.org): PACTR201403000676264 (registered on 11 October 2013).
Participants were recruited during the first antenatal visit to primary care clinics in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. In total, 2187 women were screened, and 419 women who were psychologically distressed were retained in the study. Women were interviewed at baseline, 8 months gestation and at 3 and 12 months postpartum; the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression was used to categorise women as having depression or not having depression at each interview. Collected data included sociodemographics; health service costs; user fees; opportunity costs of accessing care; and travelling expenses for the women and their child(ren). Using Markov modelling, the incremental economic burden of maternal depression was estimated across the period.
At 12 months postpartum, women with depression were significantly more likely to be unemployed, to have lower per capita household income, to incur catastrophic costs and to be in a poorer socioeconomic group than those women without depression. Costs were higher for women with depression and their child(ren) at all time points. Modelled provider costs were US$805 among women without depression versus US$1303 in women with depression.
Economic costs and outcomes were worse in perinatal women with depression. The development of interventions to reduce this burden is therefore of significant policy importance.
Evidence shows benefits of psychological treatments in low-resource countries, yet few government health systems include psychological services.
Evaluating the clinical value of adding psychological treatments, delivered by community-based counsellors, to primary care-based mental health services for depression and alcohol use disorder (AUD), as recommended by the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP).
Two randomised controlled trials, separately for depression and AUD, were carried out. Participants were randomly allocated (1:1) to mental healthcare delivered by mhGAP-trained primary care workers (psychoeducation and psychotropic medicines when indicated), or the same services plus individual psychological treatments (Healthy Activity Program for depression and Counselling for Alcohol Problems). Primary outcomes were symptom severity, measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire – 9 item (PHQ-9) for depression and the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test for AUD, and functional impairment, measured using the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS), at 12 months post-enrolment.
Participants with depression in the intervention arm (n = 60) had greater reduction in PHQ-9 and WHODAS scores compared with participants in the control (n = 60) (PHQ-9: M = −5.90, 95% CI −7.55 to −4.25, β = −3.68, 95% CI −5.68 to −1.67, P < 0.001, Cohen's d = 0.66; WHODAS: M = −12.21, 95% CI −19.58 to −4.84, β = −10.74, 95% CI −19.96 to −1.53, P= 0.022, Cohen's d = 0.42). For the AUD trial, no significant effect was found when comparing control (n = 80) and intervention participants (n = 82).
Adding a psychological treatment delivered by community-based counsellors increases treatment effects for depression compared with only mhGAP-based services by primary health workers 12 months post-treatment.
Declaration of interest
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