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Although symptomatic remission is considered the optimal outcome in depression, this is not always achieved. Furthermore, symptom indicators do not fully capture patients’ and clinicians’ perspectives on remission. Broader indicators of (partial) remission from depression should be considered.
To investigate relevant outcomes of depression treatment in specialist care from patients’ and clinicians’ perspectives and to investigate whether these perspectives differ from each other.
Three focus groups with 11 patients with depression and seven semi-structured interviews with clinicians were conducted exploring their perspectives on remission. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. We analysed the transcripts thematically using the phenomenologist approach.
Independently, both patients and clinicians perceived the following outcomes relevant: restoring social functioning and interpersonal relations, regaining quality of life and achieving personal goals. All clinicians emphasised symptom reduction and satisfaction with treatment as relevant outcomes, whereas the former was not an obvious theme in patients. Unlike clinicians, patients made a clear distinction between treatment outcomes in first versus recurrent/chronic depression.
Classically defined study outcomes based on symptom resolution only partly reflect issues considered important by patients and clinicians in specialist depression treatment. Incorporating patients’ and clinicians’ perspectives in the development of measurable end-points makes them more suitable for use in trials and subsequent translation to clinical practice. Furthermore, evaluating patients’ perspectives on treatment outcomes helps in the development of tailored interventions according to patients’ needs.
As depression has a recurrent course, relapse and recurrence prevention is essential.
In our randomised controlled trial (registered with the Nederlands trial register, identifier: NTR1907), we found that adding preventive cognitive therapy (PCT) to maintenance antidepressants (PCT+AD) yielded substantial protective effects versus antidepressants only in individuals with recurrent depression. Antidepressants were not superior to PCT while tapering antidepressants (PCT/−AD). To inform decision-makers on treatment allocation, we present the corresponding cost-effectiveness, cost-utility and budget impact.
Data were analysed (n = 289) using a societal perspective with 24-months of follow-up, with depression-free days and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) as health outcomes. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were calculated and cost-effectiveness planes and cost-effectiveness acceptability curves were derived to provide information about cost-effectiveness. The budget impact was examined with a health economic simulation model.
Mean total costs over 24 months were €6814, €10 264 and €13 282 for AD+PCT, antidepressants only and PCT/−AD, respectively. Compared with antidepressants only, PCT+AD resulted in significant improvements in depression-free days but not QALYs. Health gains did not significantly favour antidepressants only versus PCT/−AD. High probabilities were found that PCT+AD versus antidepressants only and antidepressants only versus PCT/−AD were dominant with low willingness-to-pay thresholds. The budget impact analysis showed decreased societal costs for PCT+AD versus antidepressants only and for antidepressants only versus PCT/−AD.
Adding PCT to antidepressants is cost-effective over 24 months and PCT with guided tapering of antidepressants in long-term users might result in extra costs. Future studies examining costs and effects of antidepressants versus psychological interventions over a longer period may identify a break-even point where PCT/−AD will become cost-effective.
Declaration of interest
C.L.H.B. is co-editor of PLOS One and receives no honorarium for this role. She is also co-developer of the Dutch multidisciplinary clinical guideline for anxiety and depression, for which she receives no remuneration. She is a member of the scientific advisory board of the National Insure Institute, for which she receives an honorarium, although this role has no direct relation to this study. C.L.H.B. has presented keynote addresses at conferences, such as the European Psychiatry Association and the European Conference Association, for which she sometimes receives an honorarium. She has presented clinical training workshops, some including a fee. She receives royalties from her books and co-edited books and she developed preventive cognitive therapy on the basis of the cognitive model of A. T. Beck. W.A.N. has received grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development and the European Union and honoraria and speakers' fees from Lundbeck and Aristo Pharma, and has served as a consultant for Daleco Pharma.
Evidence on cost-effectiveness is important to make well-informed decisions regarding care delivery.
To determine the balance between costs and health outcomes of cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) compared with treatment as usual (TAU) in people with schizophrenia who have persistent and recurrent symptoms of psychosis. Trial number: ISRCTN57292778.
A total of 216 people were randomised and followed up for 18 months. The primary clinical outcome measure was time functioning within the normal range. Normal functioning was defined as social functioning within the 95% range of the general population and no or minimal suffering and/or no or minimal affect on daily life of persistent psychotic symptoms. The difference in number of days was estimated. Using a societal perspective, cost differences were estimated and combined with clinical outcome to yield an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER). Uncertainty was accessed using bootstrapping and displayed by means of a cost-effectiveness acceptability curve.
In the CBT group, participants experienced 183 days of normal social functioning, whereas the TAU group experienced 106 days. The ICER was e47 per day of normal functioning gained. Cognitive–behavioural therapy implies higher costs, yet results in better health outcomes. Sensitivity analyses showed that targeting individuals who have not been hospitalised before receiving CBT results in an ICER of e14 per day normal functioning gained.
Days of normal functioning improved in the CBT condition compared with TAU, but this gain in health was associated with additional societal costs.
A randomised clinical trial was carried out in suicide attempters to assess clinical efficacy of an intensive psychosocial intervention compared with treatment as usual.
Two hundred and seventy-four suicide attempters presenting for medical treatment were randomly assigned to either intensive psychosocial treatment or ‘care as usual’. Intensive psychosocial treatment consisted of brief admission to a special crisis-intervention unit and problem-solving aftercare. ‘Care as usual’ included any form of treatment the assessing clinicians thought appropriate. Psychological well-being was evaluated by the SCL–90 and the Hopelessness Scale at 3, 6 and 12 months following entry in the study.
No differences in outcome were found. The probability of repeat suicide attempts in the 12-month follow-up was 0.17 for patients in the experimental group and 0.15 for the control group. There were no differences in ratings on the SCL–90 and the Hopelessness Scale. Patients in the experimental group attended significantly more out-patient treatment sessions.
General implementation of an intensive in-patient and community intervention programme for suicide attempters does not seem justified.
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