Protocol for an economic evaluation of scalable strategies to improve mental health among perinatal women: non-specialist care delivered via telemedicine vs. specialist care delivered in-person

Daisy R Singla, Claire de Oliveira, Sean M. Murphy, Vikram Patel, jaime Charlebois, Wendy N. Davis, Cindy-Lee Dennis, J. Jo Kim, Paul Kurdyak, Andrea Lawson, Samantha Meltzer-Brody, Benoit H. Mulsant, Nour Schoueri-Mychasiw, Richard K. Silver, Dana Tschritter, Simone N. Vigod, Sarah Byford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Perinatal depression affects an estimated 1 in 5 women in North America during the perinatal period, with annualized lifetime costs estimated at $20.6 billion CAD in Canada and over $45.9 billion USD in the US. Access to psychological treatments remains limited for most perinatal women suffering from depression and anxiety. Some barriers to effective care can be addressed through task-sharing to non-specialist providers and through telemedicine platforms. The cost-effectiveness of these strategies compared to traditional specialist and in-person models remains unknown. This protocol describes an economic evaluation of non-specialist providers and telemedicine, in comparison to specialist providers and in-person sessions within the ongoing Scaling Up Maternal Mental healthcare by Increasing access to Treatment (SUMMIT) trial. Methods: The economic evaluation will be undertaken alongside the SUMMIT trial. SUMMIT is a pragmatic, randomized, non-inferiority trial across five North American study sites (N = 1,226) of the comparable effectiveness of two types of providers (specialist vs. non-specialist) and delivery modes (telemedicine vs. in-person) of a behavioural activation treatment for perinatal depressive and anxiety symptoms. The primary economic evaluation will be a cost-utility analysis. The outcome will be the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio, which will be expressed as the additional cost required to achieve an additional quality-adjusted life-year, as assessed by the EuroQol 5-Dimension 5-Level instrument. A secondary cost-effectiveness analysis will use participants’ depressive symptom scores. A micro-costing analysis will be conducted to estimate the resources/costs required to implement and sustain the interventions; healthcare resource utilization will be captured via self-report. Data will be pooled and analysed using uniform price and utility weights to determine cost-utility across all trial sites. Secondary country-specific cost-utility and cost-effectiveness analyses will also be completed. Sensitivity analyses will be conducted, and cost-effectiveness acceptability-curves will be generated, in all instances. Discussion: Results of this study are expected to inform key decisions related to dissemination and scale up of evidence-based psychological interventions in Canada, the US, and possibly worldwide. There is potential impact on real-world practice by informing decision makers of the long-term savings to the larger healthcare setting in services to support perinatal women with common mental health conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number817
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Nov 2023

Cite this