Economic evaluation of brief cognitive behavioural therapy for social activation in recent-onset psychosis

Background

In schizophrenia spectrum disorders, negative symptoms (e.g. social withdrawal) may persist after initial treatment with antipsychotics, much affecting the quality of life (QOL) of patients. This health-economic study evaluated if a dedicated form of cognitive behaviour therapy for social activation (CBTsa) would reduce negative symptoms and improve QOL in an economically sustainable way.

Methods

A health-economic evaluation was conducted alongside a single-blind randomised controlled trial in two parallel groups: guideline congruent treatment as usual (TAU; n = 50) versus TAU augmented with adjunct CBTsa (n = 49). Outcomes were PANSS negative symptom severity and EQ-5D quality adjusted life years (QALYs) gained. The health-economic evaluation was conducted both from the societal and the health sector perspective.

Results

Both conditions showed improvement in the respective outcomes over the follow-up period of six months, but QALY gains were significantly higher in the CBTsa condition compared to the TAU condition. Treatment response rate (i.e. ≥ 5-point decrease on the PANSS) was not significantly different. However, the add-on CBT intervention was associated with higher costs. This did not support the idea that CBTsa is a cost-effective adjunct. Various sensitivity analyses attested to the robustness of these findings.

Conclusions

In the Dutch context where TAU for psychosis is guideline congruent and well implemented there appears no added value for adjunct CBTsa. In other settings where the treatment for the schizophrenia spectrum disorders solely relies on antipsychotics, add-on CBTsa may lead to clinically superior outcomes, but it should still be evaluated if adjunct CBTsa therapy is a cost-effective alternative.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov registry under NCT03217955.