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Ross EL, Vijan S, Miller EM, Valenstein M, Zivin K. The Cost-Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Versus Second-Generation Antidepressants for Initial Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder in the United States: A Decision Analytic Model. Annals of internal medicine. 2019 Dec 3; 171(11):785-795.
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Abstract: Background: Most guidelines for major depressive disorder recommend initial treatment with either a second-generation antidepressant (SGA) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Although most trials suggest that these treatments have similar efficacy, their health economic implications are uncertain. Objective: To quantify the cost-effectiveness of CBT versus SGA for initial treatment of depression. Design: Decision analytic model. Data Sources: Relative effectiveness data from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials; additional clinical and economic data from other publications. Target Population: Adults with newly diagnosed major depressive disorder in the United States. Time Horizon: 1 to 5 years. Perspectives: Health care sector and societal. Intervention: Initial treatment with either an SGA or group and individual CBT. Outcome Measures: Costs in 2014 U.S. dollars, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. Results of Base-Case Analysis: In model projections, CBT produced higher QALYs (3 days more at 1 year and 20 days more at 5 years) with higher costs at 1 year (health care sector, $900; societal, $1500) but lower costs at 5 years (health care sector, -$1800; societal, -$2500). Results of Sensitivity Analysis: In probabilistic sensitivity analyses, SGA had a 64% to 77% likelihood of having an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $100 000 or less per QALY at 1 year; CBT had a 73% to 77% likelihood at 5 years. Uncertainty in the relative risk for relapse of depression contributed the most to overall uncertainty in the optimal treatment. Limitation: Long-term trials comparing CBT and SGA are lacking. Conclusion: Neither SGAs nor CBT provides consistently superior cost-effectiveness relative to the other. Given many patients'' preference for psychotherapy over pharmacotherapy, increasing patient access to CBT may be warranted. Primary Funding Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institute of Mental Health.

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