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Against the background of missing culturally sensitive mental health care services for refugees, we developed a group intervention (Empowerment) for refugees at level 3 within the stratified Stepped and Collaborative Care Model of the project Mental Health in Refugees and Asylum Seekers (MEHIRA). We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of the Empowerment group intervention with its focus on psychoeducation, stress management, and emotion regulation strategies in a culturally sensitive context for refugees with affective disorders compared to treatment-as-usual (TAU).
At level 3 of the MEHIRA project, 149 refugees and asylum seekers with clinically relevant depressive symptoms were randomized to the Empowerment group intervention or TAU. Treatment comprised 16 therapy sessions conducted over 12 weeks. Effects were measured with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MÅDRS). Further scales included assessed emotional distress, self-efficacy, resilience, and quality of life.
Intention-to-treat analyses show significant cross-level interactions on both self-rated depressive symptoms (PHQ-9; F(1,147) = 13.32, p < 0.001) and clinician-rated depressive symptoms (MÅDRS; F(1,147) = 6.91, p = 0.01), indicating an improvement in depressive symptoms from baseline to post-intervention in the treatment group compared to the control group. The effect sizes for both scales were moderate (d = 0.68, 95% CI 0.21–1.15 for PHQ-9 and d = 0.51, 95% CI 0.04–0.99 for MÅDRS).
In the MEHIRA project comparing an SCCM approach versus TAU, the Empowerment group intervention at level 3 showed effectiveness for refugees with moderately severe depressive symptoms.
Refugees and asylum seekers (RAS) in Germany need tailored and resource-oriented mental healthcare interventions.
To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of group psychotherapy for RAS with moderate depressive symptoms.
This is a post hoc cost-effectiveness analysis of Empowerment group psychotherapy that was embedded in a stratified stepped and collaborative care model (SCCM) from the multicentre randomised controlled MEHIRA trial. One hundred and forty-nine participants were randomly assigned to SCCM or treatment as usual (TAU) and underwent Empowerment (i.e. level 3 of the SCCM for adults) or TAU. Effects were measured with the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and quality adjusted life-years (QALY) post-intervention. Health service and intervention costs were measured. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) were estimated and net monetary benefit (NMB) regressions with 95% confidence intervals were performed. Cost-effectiveness was ascertained for different values of willingness to pay (WTP) using cost-effectiveness acceptability curves for probable scenarios. Trial registration number: NCT03109028 on ClinicalTrials.gov.
Health service use costs were significantly lower for Empowerment than TAU after 1 year. Intervention costs were on average €409.6. Empowerment led to a significant change in PHQ-9 scores but not QALY. Bootstrapped mean ICER indicated cost-effectiveness according to PHQ-9 and varied considerably for QALY in the base case. NMB for a unit reduction in PHQ-9 score at WTP of €0 was €354.3 (€978.5 to −€269.9). Results were confirmed for different scenarios and varying WTP thresholds.
The Empowerment intervention was cost-effective in refugees with moderate depressive symptoms regarding the clinical outcome and led to a reduction in direct healthcare consumption. Concerning QALYs, there was a lack of confidence that Empowerment differed from TAU.
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