Background: Evidence-based clinical guidelines for major depressive disorder (MDD) recommend stepped-care strategies for sequencing evidence-based treatments conditional on treatment outcomes. This study aims to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of stepped care as recommended by the multidisciplinary clinical guideline vis-à-vis usual care in the Netherlands. Methods: Guideline-congruent care as described in stepped-care algorithms for either mild MDD or moderate and severe MDD was compared with usual care in a health-economic state-transition simulation model. Incremental costs per QALY gained were estimated over five years from a healthcare perspective. Results: For mild MDD, the cost-utility analysis showed a 67% likelihood of better health outcomes against lower costs, and 33% likelihood of better outcomes against higher costs, implying dominance of guideline-congruent stepped care. For moderate and severe MDD, the cost-utility analysis indicated a 67% likelihood of health gains at higher costs following the stepped-care approach and 33% likelihood of health gains at lower costs, with a mean ICER of about €3,200 per QALY gained. At a willingness to pay threshold of €20,000 per QALY, the stepped-care algorithms for both mild MDD and moderate or severe MDD is deemed cost-effective compared to usual care with a greater than 95% probability. Limitations: The findings of our decision-analytic modelling are limited by the accuracy and availability of the underlying evidence. This hampers taking into account all individual differences relevant to optimise treatment to individual needs. Conclusions: It is highly likely that guideline-congruent stepped care for MDD is cost-effective compared to usual care. Our findings support current guideline recommendations.
Meeuwissen, J. A. C., Feenstra, T. L., Smit, F., Blankers, M., Spijker, J., Bockting, C. L. H., ... Buskens, E. (2019). The cost-utility of stepped-care algorithms according to depression guideline recommendations – Results of a state-transition model analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 242, 244-254. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2018.08.024