Antonuccio, D.O., Thomas, M., & Danton, W.G. (1997). A cost-effectiveness analysis of cognitive behavior therapy and fluoxetine (Prozac) in the treatment of depression. Behavior Therapy, 28, 187-210.
Depression affects at least 11 million Americans per year and costs the U.S. economy an estimated 44 billion dollars annually. Comprehensive review of the existing scientific evidence suggests that psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), is at least as effective as medication in the treatment of depression, even if severe (Antonuccio, Danton, & DeNelsky, 1995). These conclusions hold for both vegetative and social adjustment symptoms, especially when patient-related measures are used and long-term follow-up is considered. In addition, several well-controlled studies with long-term follow-up (Evans, et al., 1992; Shea, et al., 1992; Simons, Murphy, Levine, & Wetzel, 1986) suggest that CBT may be more effective than drug treatment at preventing relapse. The relative effectiveness of psychotherapy for depression, particularly CBT, has been reinforced by meta-analyses reported in both psychiatry (Hollon, Shelton, & Loosen, 1991; Wexler .& Cicchetti, 1992) and psychology journals (Dobson, 1989; Robinson, Berman, & Neimeyer, 1990; Steinbrueck, Maxwell, & Howard, 1983). In the era of managed care, it is not enough to be effective; treatments must be cost-effective. This paper considers the outcome studies as the basis for a cost-effectiveness comparison of drugs and psychotherapy in the treatment of unipolar depression. The analysis shows that over a 2-year period, fluoxetine alone may result in 33% higher costs than individual CBT treatment and the combination treatment may result in 23% higher costs than CBT alone. Supplemental analysis shows that group CBT may only result in a 2% ($596) cost savings as compared to individual treatment.
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