Contact: Depression is common in adolescent offspring of depressed parents and can be prevented, but adoption of prevention programs is dependent on the balance of their incremental costs and benefits.
Objective: To examine the incremental cost-effectiveness of a group cognitive behavioral intervention to prevent depression in adolescent offspring of depressed parents.
Design: Cost-effectiveness analysis of a recent randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Kaiser Permanente Northwest, a large health maintenance organization.
Participants: Teens 13 to 18 years old at risk for depression.
Interventions: Usual care (n = 49) or usual care plus a 15-session group cognitive therapy prevention program (n = 45).
Main outcome measures: Clinical outcomes were converted to depression-free days and quality-adjusted life-years. Total health maintenance organization costs, costs of services received in other sectors, and family costs were combined with clinical outcomes in a cost-effectiveness analysis comparing the intervention with usual care for 1 year after the intervention.
Results: Average cost of the intervention was $1632, and total direct and indirect costs increased by $610 in the intervention group. However, the result was not statistically significant, suggesting a possible cost offset. Estimated incremental cost per depression-free day in the base-case analysis was $10 (95% confidence interval, -$13 to $52) or $9275 per quality-adjusted life-year (95% confidence interval, -$12 148 to $45 641).
Conclusions: Societal cost-effectiveness of a brief prevention program to reduce the risk of depression in offspring of depressed parents is comparable to that of accepted depression treatments, and the program is cost-effective compared with other health interventions commonly covered in insurance contracts.