Collaborative care is an effective approach for treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression within the US Military Health System (MHS), but its cost-effectiveness remains unstudied. Our objective was to evaluate the costs and cost-effectiveness of centrally assisted collaborative telecare (CACT) versus optimized usual care (OUC) for PTSD and depression in the MHS.
A randomized trial compared CACT with OUC. Routine primary care screening identified active-duty service members with PTSD or depression. Eligible participants (N = 666) were randomized to CACT or OUC and assessed at 3, 6, and 12 months. OUC patients could receive care management and increased behavioral health support. CACT patients could receive these services plus stepped psychosocial treatment and routine centralized team monitoring.
Quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) were derived from the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey. Claims and case management data were used to estimate costs. Cost-effectiveness analyses were conducted from a societal perspective.
Data from 629 patients (320 CACT and 309 OUC) with sufficient follow-up were analyzed. CACT patients gained 0.02 QALYs (95% CI, –0.001 to 0.03) relative to OUC patients. Twelve-month costs, including productivity, were $987 (95% CI, –$3056 to $5030) higher for CACT versus OUC. CACT was estimated to cost $49,346 per QALY gained compared with OUC over 12 months. There is a 58% probability that CACT is cost-effective at a $100,000/QALY threshold.
Despite its higher costs, CACT appears to be a cost-effective strategy relative to OUC for managing PTSD and depression in the MHS.