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Counselling may be more expensive than usual care for people with mental health problems, but may not be more effective for improving Beck depression score in the long term
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QUESTION: Is counselling people with mental health problems more cost-effective than usual care? Can meta-analysis of cost data from primary studies increase the reliability of economic analyses?

Design

Meta-analysis of individual patient data.

Data sources

Studies were identified from a Cochrane systematic review.

Study selection

Eligible studies compared counselling in primary care versus usual general practitioner care in people with mental health problems. Studies with insufficient detail on healthcare utilisation, or inadequate randomisation methods were excluded.

Data extraction

Data on type of counselling, trial inclusion criteria, length of follow up, primary clinical outcomes, health service use and sample size were extracted. Standardised national unit costs in pounds sterling for the 1999–2000 financial year were applied. …

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