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Study rejects cost-effectiveness of CBT for adolescents

16 September 2008

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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for clinically depressed adolescents is not cost effective, researchers  have found.

For those with moderate to severe major depression, the addition of CBT to drug therapy and active clinical care does not improve wellbeing enough to justify the cost, researchers have found.

The research team at the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) compared the clinical benefits and cost-effectiveness of two treatments for depression.

One treatment involved a combination of CBT with antidepressant medication, and the second was antidepressant drugs alone. Both sets of patients continued to receive routine active clinical care.

Over 200 adolescent patients with depressive illness were recruited and were regularly monitored for both adverse and beneficial results.

The researchers concluded that the addition of CBT to treatment with antidepressants had no benefit over treatment with antidepressants alone. Meanwhile, antidepressant treatment (mostly fluoxetine) is not likely to result in adverse side-effects.

Two-thirds of the patients in both groups were no longer clinically depressed six months after they entered treatment.

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