Cost-effectiveness of an intervention to prevent depression in at-risk teens

Frances L. Lynch, Mark Hornbrook, Gregory N. Clarke, Nancy Perrin, Michael R. Polen, Elizabeth O'Connor, John Dickerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1241-1248
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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