Economics of Collaborative Care for Management of Depressive Disorders

A Community Guide Systematic Review


      Major depressive disorders are frequently underdiagnosed and undertreated. Collaborative Care models developed from the Chronic Care Model during the past 20 years have improved the quality of depression management in the community, raising intervention cost incrementally above usual care. This paper assesses the economic efficiency of collaborative care for management of depressive disorders by comparing its economic costs and economic benefits to usual care, as informed by a systematic review of the literature.

      Evidence acquisition

      The economic review of collaborative care for management of depressive disorders was conducted in tandem with a review of effectiveness, under the guidance of the Community Preventive Services Task Force, a nonfederal, independent group of public health leaders and experts. Economic review methods developed by the Guide to Community Preventive Services were used by two economists to screen, abstract, adjust, and summarize the economic evidence of collaborative care from societal and other perspectives. An earlier economic review that included eight RCTs was included as part of the evidence. The present economic review expanded the evidence with results from studies published from 1980 to 2009 and included both RCTs and other study designs.

      Evidence synthesis

      In addition to the eight RCTs included in the earlier review, 22 more studies of collaborative care that provided estimates for economic outcomes were identified, 20 of which were evaluations of actual interventions and two of which were based on models. Of seven studies that measured only economic benefits of collaborative care in terms of averted healthcare or productivity loss, four found positive economic benefits due to intervention and three found minimal or no incremental benefit. Of five studies that measured both benefits and costs, three found lower collaborative care cost because of reduced healthcare utilization or enhanced productivity, and one found the same for a subpopulation of the intervention group. One study found that willingness to pay for collaborative care exceeded program costs. Among six cost–utility studies, five found collaborative care was cost effective. In two modeled studies, one showed cost effectiveness based on comparison of $/disability-adjusted life-year to annual per capita income; the other demonstrated cost effectiveness based on the standard threshold of $50,000/quality-adjusted life year, unadjusted for inflation. Finally, six of eight studies in the earlier review reported that interventions were cost effective on the basis of the standard threshold.


      The evidence indicates that collaborative care for management of depressive disorders provides good economic value.
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