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BACKGROUND: Treatment options for depression include antidepressants, psychological therapy and a combination of the two. AIMS: To develop cost-effective clinical guidelines. METHOD: Systematic literature reviews were used to identify clinical, utility and cost data. A decision analysis was then conducted to compare the benefits and costs of antidepressants with combination therapy for moderate and severe depression in secondary care in the UK. RESULTS: Over the 15-month analysis period, combination therapy resulted in higher costs and an expected 0.16 increase per person in the probability of remission and no relapse compared with antidepressants. The cost per additional successfully treated patient was 4056 UK pounds (95% CI1400-18300); the cost per quality-adjusted life year gained was 5777 UK pounds (95% CI1900-33 800) for severe depression and 14 540 UK pounds (95% CI 4800-79 400) for moderate depression. CONCLUSIONS: Combination therapy is likely to be a cost-effective first-line secondary care treatment for severe depression. Its cost-effectiveness for moderate depression is more uncertain from current evidence. Targeted combination therapy could improve resource utilisation.

Original publication





Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date





494 - 501


Antidepressive Agents, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Combined Modality Therapy, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Decision Support Techniques, Depressive Disorder, Female, Health Care Costs, Humans, Male, Practice Guidelines as Topic, Treatment Outcome