Researchers at Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work along with the Center for Children and Families have found computer-based interventions can cut childhood anxiety treatment costs nearly in half.
Findings show families can significantly reduce costs — without compromising effectiveness of treatment — by implementing a stepped approach. This means starting with low intensity treatments such as computer-administered treatment sessions, then stepping up to standard, higher intensity interventions including in-person cognitive behavioral therapy.
Using Florida Medicaid rates for mental health services, researchers determined the total cost of standard treatment was $780 per child. Applying the stepped approach, the average total cost dropped almost 45 percent to $433 per child.
Standard treatment for anxiety consists of several sessions of cognitive behavior therapy which takes a great amount of time and resources. However, research showed 69 percent of children with anxiety who first completed an eight-session computer-based intervention had significant improvement and spent half the amount of time with a therapist than those who only received cognitive behavior therapy.
“The amount of cost savings generated by the stepped approach was significant and suggests large system-wide savings if similar approaches are adopted on a large scale,” said FIU health economics expert Timothy F. Page of the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, who conducted the cost analysis for the study. “Innovative approaches that reduce the cost of treatment can ensure that resources are available to treat those in need.”
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