Cost-benefit analysis of multisystemic therapy with serious and violent juvenile offenders

J Fam Psychol. 2010 Oct;24(5):657-66. doi: 10.1037/a0020838.


This study investigated the economics of multisystemic therapy (MST) versus individual therapy (IT) using rearrest data from a 13.7-year follow-up (Schaeffer & Borduin, 2005) of a randomized clinical trial with serious juvenile offenders (Borduin et al., 1995). Two types of benefits of MST were evaluated: The value to taxpayers was derived from measures of criminal justice system expenses (e.g., police and sheriff's offices, court processing, jails, community supervision), and the value to crime victims was derived in terms of both tangible (e.g., property damage and loss, health care, police and fire services, lost productivity) and intangible (e.g., pain, suffering, reduced quality of life) losses. Results indicated that the reductions in criminality in the MST versus IT conditions were associated with substantial reductions in expenses to taxpayers and intangible losses to crime victims, with cumulative benefits ranging from $75,110 to $199,374 per MST participant. Stated differently, it was estimated that every dollar spent on MST provides $9.51 to $23.59 in savings to taxpayers and crime victims in the years ahead. The economic benefits of MST, as well as its clinical effectiveness, should be considered by policymakers and the public at large in the selection of interventions for serious juvenile offenders.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Behavior Therapy / economics
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Behavior Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / economics
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / methods
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / statistics & numerical data
  • Crime / economics*
  • Crime / prevention & control*
  • Crime / psychology
  • Family Therapy / economics
  • Family Therapy / methods
  • Family Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / economics*
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology
  • Juvenile Delinquency / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy / economics*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Psychotherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Violence / economics
  • Violence / prevention & control
  • Violence / psychology