Objectives: Major depression is common in elderly patients. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a potentially effective treatment for depressed elderly patients. The objective of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of IPT delivered by mental health workers in primary care practices, for depressed patients 55 years of age and older identified by screening, in comparison with care as usual (CAU).
Methods: We conducted a full economic evaluation alongside a randomized controlled trial comparing IPT with CAU. Outcome measures were depressive symptoms, presence of major depression, and quality of life. Resource use was measured from a societal perspective over a 12-month period by cost diaries. Multiple imputation and bootstrapping were used to analyze the data.
Results: At 6 and 12 months, the differences in clinical outcomes between IPT and CAU were small and nonsignificant. Total costs at 12 months were €5,753 in the IPT group and €4,984 in the CAU group (mean difference, €769; 95 percent confidence interval, −2,459 – 3,433). Cost-effectiveness planes indicated that there was much uncertainty around the cost-effectiveness ratios.
Conclusions: Based on these results, provision of IPT in primary care to elderly depressed patients was not cost-effective in comparison to CAU. Future research should focus on improvement of patient selection and treatments that have more robust effects in the acute and maintenance phase of treatment.