Utilising survey data to inform public policy: Comparison of the cost-effectiveness of treatment of ten mental disorders

Gavin Andrews, Cathy Issakidis, Kristy Sanderson, Justine Corry, Helen Lapsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mental health survey data are now being used proactively to decide how the burden of disease might best be reduced.

Aims: To study the cost-effectiveness of current and optimal treatments for mental disorders and the proportion of burden avertable by each.

Method: Data for three affective, four anxiety and two alcohol use disorders and for schizophrenia were compared in terms of cost, burden averted and efficiency of current and optimal treatment. We then calculated the burden unavertable given current knowledge. The unit of health gain was a reduction in the years lived with disability (YLDs).

Results: Summing across all disorders, current treatment averted 13% of the burden, at an average cost of AUS$30 000 per YLD gained. Optimal treatment at current coverage could avert 20% of the burden, at an average cost of AUS$18 000 per YLD gained. Optimal treatment at optimal coverage could avert 28% of the burden, at AUS$16 000 per YLD gained. Sixty per cent of the burden of mental disorders was deemed to be unavertable.

Conclusions: The efficiency of treatment varied more than tenfold across disorders. Although coverage of some of the more efficient treatments should be extended, other factors justify continued use of less-efficient treatments for some disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-533
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004

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