Assessing costs of developing a digital program for training community health workers to deliver treatment for depression: A case study in rural India

Psychiatry Res. 2022 Jan:307:114299. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.114299. Epub 2021 Nov 25.


Digital technology has emerged as a promising approach for training and building capacity of community health workers in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Little is known about the cost of developing digital training programs in LMICs, which hinders the adoption, implementation, and scaling up of the programs in routine primary care settings. This study assessed the costs of developing a digital program for training community health workers to deliver a psychological treatment for depression in a rural district of Madhya Pradesh, India. We developed survey instruments to document required resources in development, including involved personnel (their roles, responsibilities, time spent, and salaries or payments), information technologies (e.g., smartphones, software programs), and infrastructure-related costs (e.g., vehicle, office space, utilities). Costs were estimated from an accounting perspective. Over a 10-month developmental period, the total costs were 208,814 USD, with the largest portion on human resources (61%, with 14% on management and supervision), followed by information technologies (33%), and infrastructure-related costs (6%). These findings could inform policymakers in LMICs on costs of developing online-training programs, which will be especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Cost estimation; Depression; Development costs; Digital technology; Primary health care; Training.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Community Health Workers*
  • Depression
  • Humans
  • India
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2