Community-Based Implementation of Trauma-Focused Interventions for Youth: Economic Impact of the Learning Collaborative Model

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Abstract

This study investigated the economics of the learning collaborative (LC) model in the implementation of Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an evidence-based intervention for traumatic stress in youth. We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of the LC model based on data from 13 LCs completed in the southeastern United States. Specifically, we calculated cost-effectiveness ratios (CERs) for 2 key service outcomes: (a) clinician TF-CBT competence, based on pre- and post-LC self-ratings (n = 574); and (b) trauma-related mental health symptoms (i.e., traumatic stress and depression), self- and caregiver-reported, for youth who received TF-CBT (n = 1,410). CERs represented the cost of achieving 1 standard unit of change on a measure (i.e., d = 1.0). The results indicated that (a) costs of $18,679 per clinician were associated with each unit increase in TF-CBT competency and (b) costs from $5,318 to $6,548 per youth were associated with each unit decrease in mental health symptoms. Thus, although the impact of LC participation on clinician competence did not produce a favorable CER, subsequent reductions in youth psychopathology demonstrated high cost-effectiveness. Clinicians and administrators in community provider agencies should consider these findings in their decisions about implementation of evidence-based interventions for youth with traumatic stress disorders.

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