Preliminary Estimates of Cost-Effectiveness for Marital Therapy

Authors


  • Benjamin E. Caldwell, PsyD, Marital and Family Therapy Programs, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, Sacramento, California; Scott R. Woolley, PhD, Marital and Family Therapy Programs, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, San Diego, California; Casey J. Caldwell, JD, MBA, was an MBA student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, at the time of the study.

  • The authors wish to thank Steve Brown, PhD, for his valuable feedback and support.

Address correspondence to Benjamin E. Caldwell, 425 University Avenue, Suite 201, Sacramento, California 95825; E-mail: bcaldwell@alliant.edu

Abstract

Cost-effectiveness of marital therapy was examined beginning with a simple question: If government or health insurers paid for the screening and, where indicated, empirically supported treatment of 100,000 randomly selected married persons (i.e., 50,000 couples) from the general population, would the financial benefits outweigh costs? Two empirically supported forms of marital therapy, behavioral marital therapy and emotionally focused therapy, were considered in aggregate as possible treatments of choice. Marital therapy appears to be cost-effective when paid for by government to reduce public costs of divorce or when paid for by insurers to offset the increased health-care expenses associated with divorce. Implications and specific needs for future research to substantiate these conclusions are discussed.

Ancillary