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Health economic evaluation of an internet intervention for depression (deprexis), a randomized controlled trial


  • Viola Gräfe

    (Bielefeld University)

  • Steffen Moritz

    (University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf)

  • Wolfgang Greiner

    (Bielefeld University)


Background Depressive disorders often remain undiagnosed or are treated inadequately. Online-based programs may reduce the present treatment gap for depressive disorders and reduce disease-related costs. This study aimed to examine the potential of the internet intervention “deprexis” to reduce the total costs of statutory health insurance. Changes in depression severity, health-related quality of life and impairment in functioning were also examined. Method A total of 3805 participants with, at minimum, mild depressive symptoms were randomized to either a 12-week online intervention (deprexis) or a control condition. The primary outcome measure was statutory health insurance costs, estimated using health insurers’ administrative data. Secondary outcomes were: depression severity, health-related quality of life, and impairment in functioning; assessed on patient’s self-report at baseline, post-treatment, and three-months’ and nine-months’ follow-up. Results In both groups, total costs of statutory health insurance decreased during the study period, but changes from baseline differed significantly. In the intervention group total costs decreased by 32% from 3139€ per year at baseline to 2119€ in the study year (vs. a mean reduction in total costs of 13% in the control group). In comparison to the control group, the intervention group also showed a significantly greater reduction in depression severity, and impairment in functioning and a significantly greater increase in health-related quality of life. Conclusion The study underlines the potential of innovative internet intervention programs in treating depressive disorders. The results suggest that the use of deprexis over a period of 12 weeks leads to a significant improvement in symptoms with a simultaneous reduction in the costs of statutory health insurance.

Suggested Citation

  • Viola Gräfe & Steffen Moritz & Wolfgang Greiner, 2020. "Health economic evaluation of an internet intervention for depression (deprexis), a randomized controlled trial," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 1-11, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:hecrev:v:10:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1186_s13561-020-00273-0
    DOI: 10.1186/s13561-020-00273-0

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 6th July 2020
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2020-07-06 11:00:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Fürstenau & Martin Gersch & Stefanie Schreiter, 2023. "Digital Therapeutics (DTx)," Business & Information Systems Engineering: The International Journal of WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK, Springer;Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI), vol. 65(3), pages 349-360, June.


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