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Journal Articles Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics Year : 2013

Costs and benefits of improving access to psychotherapies for common mental disorders


Background : Structured psychotherapies are treatments used in common mental health disorders (CMHDs) that are recommended by international good practice guidelines. Their efficacy and positive impact on health--and thereby on the reduction of related costs for health insurance schemes and society--have been widely demonstrated. However in France, despite the considerable financial burden of CMHDs, psychotherapies with a non-medical psychotherapist are not reimbursed by the health insurance schemes. Aims:OF THE STUDY: To assess the cost of coverage for psychotherapies by the health insurance bodies for adults aged 18 to 75 with CMHDs--depressive or anxious disorders, severe or recurrent--and to estimate the cost-benefit ratio for these psychotherapies for the community. METHODS: The data was derived from l'Enquete Indicateurs de sante mentale dans quatre regions francaises 2005, which is a cross-sectional study on 20,777 adults in the general population. Telephone interviews were backed up by the CIDI-SF. The Sheehan Disability Scale was used to assess the severity of the disorders. The proportion of patients who would agree to and then attend psychotherapies was estimated using the methodology developed in the UK in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, adapted to the French setting. The number of sessions to be covered was defined according to recommendations by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. The cost was estimated to be 41 per session, the reimbursement rate was set at 60% for the compulsory health coverage system. The annual costs engendered by CMHDs were estimated to be 4,702 for depressive disorders and 1,500 for anxiety disorders. The remission rate attributable to psychotherapies was estimated to be 30% pm10%. RESULTS: For average series of 10 sessions (anxiety disorders) to 18 sessions (depressive disorders) the yearly cost of psychotherapies would be 514 million Euros, of which 308 million would be covered by the compulsory coverage system, to treat 1.033 million patients, or 2.3% of the population. For patients with depressive disorders, 1 spent by the community for the psychotherapy would enable the community a saving of 1.95 (1.30-2.60), and for anxiety disorders a saving of 1.14 (0.76-1.52). DISCUSSION: This programme for provision of coverage for psychotherapies would have a positive impact for the community as a whole, in terms of quality-of-life, health and absenteeism. Funding psychotherapies proves to be a cost-efficient investment in the short and the long term, and this is backed up further by the fact that the impact of psychotherapies on somatic disorders interacting with CMHDs was not taken into account here. IMPLICATIONS FOR HEALTH POLICIES, HEALTH CARE PROVISION AND USE: Decision-makers in the health insurance schemes will thus have reliable medico-economic data available to assist in decisions for a possible policy for reimbursement of psychotherapies. Financial coverage of psychotherapies would in particular enable access to treatment by people for whom the financial barrier would have prevented access to this treatment. Furthermore, reimbursing sessions with non-medical psychotherapists could also improve conditions of care-provision by mental health professionals. Finally, this model could be replicated in other countries where the health system is sufficiently comparable to that prevailing in France. IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH: An in-depth study is required to detail cost and benefit of providing insurance coverage for psychotherapies for the different protagonists involved in this funding, and its effects.
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hal-03478880 , version 1 (14-12-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-03478880 , version 1


Anne Dezetter, Xavier Briffault, C Ben Lakhdar, V Kovess-Masfety. Costs and benefits of improving access to psychotherapies for common mental disorders. Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, 2013, 16 (4), pp.161-177. ⟨hal-03478880⟩
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