Cover: Cost-effectiveness of Practice-Initiated Quality Improvement for Depression

Cost-effectiveness of Practice-Initiated Quality Improvement for Depression

Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Published in: JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, v. 286, no. 11, Sep. 19, 2001, p. 1325-1330

Posted on 2001

by Michael Schoenbaum, Jurgen Unutzer, Cathy D. Sherbourne, Naihua Duan, Lisa V. Rubenstein, Jeanne Miranda, Lisa S. Meredith, Maureen F. Carney, Kenneth B. Wells

CONTEXT: Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, but treatment rates in primary care are low. OBJECTIVE: To determine the cost-effectiveness from a societal perspective of 2 quality improvement (QI) interventions to improve treatment of depression in primary care and their effects on patient employment. DESIGN: Group-level randomized controlled trial conducted June 1996 to July 1999. SETTING: Forty-six primary care clinics in 6 community-based managed care organizations. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred eighty-one primary care clinicians and 1356 patients with positive screening results for current depression. INTERVENTIONS: Matched practices were randomly assigned to provide usual care (n = 443 patients) or to 1 of 2 QI interventions offering training to practice leaders and nurses, enhanced educational and assessment resources, and either nurses for medication follow-up (QI-meds; n = 424 patients) or trained local psychotherapists (QI-therapy; n = 489). Practices could flexibly implement the interventions, which did not assign type of treatment. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Total health care costs, costs per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY), days with depression burden, and employment over 24 months, compared between usual care and the 2 interventions. RESULTS: Relative to usual care, average health care costs increased $419 (11%) in QI-meds (P = .35) and $485 (13%) in QI-therapy (P = .28); estimated costs per QALY gained were between $15 331 and $36 467 for QI-meds and $9478 and $21 478 for QI-therapy; and patients had 25 (P = .19) and 47 (P = .01) fewer days with depression burden and were employed 17.9 (P = .07) and 20.9 (P = .03) more days during the study period. CONCLUSIONS: Societal cost-effectiveness of practice-initiated QI efforts for depression is comparable with that of accepted medical interventions. The intervention effects on employment may be of particular interest to employers and other stakeholders.

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