The economic analysis of prevention: An illustration involving children’s behavior problems.

Foster, E. M., Jones, D., & Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2007). The economic analysis of prevention: An illustration involving children's behavior problems. Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, 10(4), 165-75.

Abstract: Background: Economic analyses of programs to prevent or treat behavioral health problems among children and youth are an important component of intervention research. Aims of the study: This study examines the cost-effectiveness of the Fast Track intervention, a multi-year, multi-component intervention designed to reduce violence in at-risk children. Analytic models estimate intervention cost-effectiveness allowing for sampling variation and considering alternative policy-maker willingness to pay levels. Methods: Costs of the intervention were estimated using program budgets. The probability of intervention effectiveness is mapped against willingness to pay using cost-effectiveness acceptability curves (CEAC). Cost-effectiveness is gauged using three outcomes measured in grade 9: diagnosis of conduct disorder; acts of interpersonal violence avoided; index criminal offense avoided. Results: Evaluation of the total sample shows that the intervention was not cost-effective at anticipated levels of policy maker's willingness to pay. For those most at-risk, however, the intervention was likely cost-effective. Discussion: Outcome measures are based on parent reports and so may be subject to respondent bias. Future costs related to conditions such as conduct disorder are speculative based on previous research.