Patient Choice of Treatment for PTSD: Leads to Cost Savings

PTSDA recent cost-analysis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments found that allowing patients to choose their course of treatment is less expensive than assigning a treatment and provides a better quality of life for patients.[1] In fact, researchers discovered that giving PTSD patients the choice between therapies ended up costing approximately $1, 622 less on average per patient per year compared with patients who were being assigned treatment.1

“This is one of the first studied to look at the cost of providing mental health care and comparing different treatments for PTSD, ” said Lori Zoellner, PhD, co-author of the study and director of the University of Washington’s Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress. “It has tremendous implications for how large health care systems such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs proceed with treating PTSD.”1

“In evaluating how well a treatment works, we seldom pay attention to the role of a patient’s preference, although it could be particularly important in mental health treatments,” Zoellner added. “Trauma survivors with PTSD often have strong opinions about wanting to talk about the trauma or not in therapy, some believing they really need to talk about it to heal and others really wanting to avoid talking about it. They may experience greater relief when they receive the treatment that they prefer.”1

As randomized clinical trials do not accommodate patients’ preferences, Zoellner and colleagues used a study design called a “double randomized preference trial” to investigate whether giving patients a choice affects their treatment outcomes.1

“Most clinical studies try to answer which treatment works best but do not factor in how giving patients choices could affect their health,” said Quang Le, PharmD, PhD, lead author and an assistant professor of pharmacy at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA. “With this study design, we could isolate the effects of this patient choice and see if it is cost-effective.”1

When study participants were given a choice, their treatment cost each year an average of $6,156 compared with $7,778 for those assigned a treatment—a difference of $1,622 per patient per year.1 The costs in 2012 U.S. dollars included therapy, outpatient services, hospitalization, emergency department visits, pharmacy services, and nonmedical services, as well as indirect costs such as losses in worker productivity.1

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Patient Choice of Treatment for PTSD Can Lead to Cost Savings. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/29/patient-choice-of-treatment-for-ptsd-can-lead-to-cost-savings/70520.html

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