The search for relevant outcome measures for cost-utility analysis of systemic family interventions in adolescents with substance use disorder and delinquent behavior: a systematic literature review

Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2017 Sep 19;15(1):179. doi: 10.1186/s12955-017-0722-9.


Purpose: Systemic family interventions have shown to be effective in adolescents with substance use disorder and delinquent behavior. The interventions target interactions between the adolescent and involved systems (i.e. youth, family, peers, neighbors, school, work, and society). Next to effectiveness considerations, economic aspects have gained attention. However, conventional generic quality of life measures used in health economic evaluations may not be able to capture the broad effects of systemic interventions. This study aims to identify existing outcome measures, which capture the broad effects of systemic family interventions, and allow use in a health economic framework.

Methods: We based our systematic review on clinical studies in the field. Our goal was to identify effectiveness studies of psychosocial interventions for adolescents with substance use disorder and delinquent behavior and to distill the instruments used in these studies to measure effects. Searched databases were PubMed, Education Resource Information Center (ERIC), Cochrane and Psychnet (PsycBOOKSc, PsycCRITIQUES, print). Identified instruments were ranked according to the number of systems covered (comprehensiveness). In addition, their use for health economic analyses was evaluated according to suitability characteristics such as brevity, accessibility, psychometric properties, etc.

Results: One thousand three hundred seventy-eight articles were found and screened for eligibility. Eighty articles were selected, 8 instruments were identified covering 5 or more systems.

Conclusions: The systematic review identified instruments from the clinical field suitable to evaluate systemic family interventions in a health economic framework. None of them had preference-weights available. Hence, a next step could be to attach preference-weights to one of the identified instruments to allow health economic evaluations of systemic family interventions.

Keywords: Economic evaluation; Externalizing; Instrument; Mental health; Youth.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Family Therapy / economics*
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Life*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*