Background: Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent psychiatric conditions, and are associated with poor quality of life and substantial economic burden. Cognitive behavioural therapy is an effective treatment to reduce anxiety symptoms, but is also costly and labour intensive. Cost-effectiveness could possibly be improved by delivering cognitive behavioural therapy in a blended format, where face-to-face sessions are partially replaced by online sessions. The aim of this trial is to determine the cost-effectiveness of blended cognitive behavioural therapy for adults with anxiety disorders, i.e. panic disorder, social phobia or generalized anxiety disorder, in specialized mental health care settings compared to face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy. In this paper, we present the study protocol. It is hypothesized that blended cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders is clinically as effective as face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy, but that intervention costs may be reduced. We thus hypothesize that blended cognitive behavioural therapy is more cost-effective than face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy.

Methods/design: In a randomised controlled equivalence trial 156 patients will be included (n = 78 in blended cognitive behavioural therapy, n = 78 in face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy) based on a power of 0.80, calculated by using a formula to estimate the power of a cost-effectiveness analysis: $n = \frac{2(z_\alpha + z_\beta)^2(sd^2 + (W^2sd^2) - (2Wpsd_csd_q))}{(WE-C)^2}$ Measurements will take place at baseline, midway treatment (7 weeks), immediately after treatment (15 weeks) and 12-month follow-up. At baseline a diagnostic interview will be administered. Primary clinical outcomes are changes in anxiety symptom severity as measured with the Beck Anxiety Inventory. An incremental cost-effectiveness ratio will be calculated to obtain the costs per quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) measured by the EQ-5D (5-level version). Health-economic outcomes will be explored from a societal and health care perspective.

Discussion: This trial will be one of the first to provide information on the cost-effectiveness of blended cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders in routine specialized mental health care settings, both from a societal and a health care perspective.,
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Romijn, G., Riper, H., Kok, R., Donker, T., Goorden, M., Hakkaart-van Roijen, L., … Koning, J. (2015). Cost-effectiveness of blended vs. face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy for severe anxiety disorders: study protocol of a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 15(311), 1–10. doi:10.1186/s12888-015-0697-1