To assess the clinical and cost-effectiveness of parent training programmes for the treatment of children with conduct disorder (CD) up to the age of 18 years.
For the effectiveness review, relevant studies were identified and evaluated. A quantitative synthesis of behavioural outcomes across trials was also undertaken using two approaches: vote counting and meta-analysis. The economic analysis consisted of reviewing previous economic/cost evaluations of parent training/education programmes and the economic information within sponsor's submissions; carrying out a detailed exploration of costs of parent training/education programmes; and a de novo modelling assessment of the cost-effectiveness of parent training/education programmes. The potential budget impact to the health service of implementing such programmes was also considered.
Many of the 37 randomised controlled trials that met the review inclusion and exclusion criteria were assessed as being of poor methodological quality. Studies were clinically heterogeneous in terms of the population, type of parent training/education programme and content, setting, delivery, length and child behaviour outcomes used. Both vote counting and meta-analysis revealed a consistent trend across all studies towards short-term effectiveness (up to 4 months) of parent training/education programmes (compared with control) as measured by a change in child behaviour. Pooled estimates showed a statistically significant improvement on the Eyberg Child Behaviour Inventory frequency and intensity scales, the Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System and the Child Behaviour Checklist. No studies reported a statistically significant result favouring control over parent training/education programmes. There were few statistically significant differences between different parent training/education programmes, although there was a trend towards more intensive interventions (e.g. longer contact hours, additional child involvement) being more effective. The cost of treating CD is high, with costs incurred by many agencies. A recent study suggested that by age 28, costs for individuals with CD were around 10 times higher than for those with no problems, with a mean cost of 70,019 pounds sterling. Criminality incurs the greatest cost, followed by educational provision, foster and residential care and state benefits. Only a small proportion of these costs fall on health services. Using a 'bottom-up' costing approach, the costs per family of providing parent training/education programmes range from 629 pounds sterling to 3839 pounds sterling depending on the type and style of delivery. Using the conservative assumption that there are no cost savings from treatment, a total lifetime quality of life gain of 0.1 would give a cost per quality-adjusted life-year of between 38,393 pounds sterling and 6288 pounds sterling depending on the type of programme delivery and setting.
Parent training/education programmes appear to be an effective and potentially cost-effective therapy for children with CD. However, the relative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different models (such as therapy intensity and setting) require further investigation. Further research is required on the impact of parent training/education programmes on the quality of life of children with CD and their parents/carers, as well as on longer term child outcomes. [References: 124]
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