Br J Psychiatry. 2006 Apr;188:330-6.

Little is known about the cost-effectiveness of preventing mental disorders.

To study the cost-effectiveness of care as usual plus minimal contact psychotherapy relative to usual care alone in preventing depressive disorder.

An economic evaluation was conducted alongside a randomised clinical trial. Primary care patients with sub-threshold depression were assigned to minimal contact psychotherapy plus usual care (n=107) or to usual care alone (n=109).

Primary care patients with sub-threshold depression benefited from minimal contact psychotherapy as it reduced the risk of developing a full-blown depressive disorder from 18% to 12%. In addition, this intervention had a 70% probability of being more cost-effective than usual care alone. A sensitivity analysis indicated the robustness of these results.

Over 1 year adjunctive minimal contact psychotherapy improved outcomes and generated lower costs. This intervention is therefore superior to usual care alone in terms of cost-effectiveness.