Background: Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy can aid patients with rheumatoid arthritis with elevated levels of distress to enhance their quality of life. However, implementation is currently lacking and there is little evidence available on the (cost-) effectiveness of different treatment strategies. Objective: Cost-benefit ratios are necessary for informing stakeholders and motivating them to implement effective treatment strategies for improving health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. A cost-effectiveness study from a societal perspective was conducted alongside a randomized controlled trial on a tailored, therapist-guided internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) intervention for patients with rheumatoid arthritis with elevated levels of distress as an addition to care as usual (CAU). Methods: Data were collected at baseline or preintervention, 6 months or postintervention, and every 3 months thereafter during the 1-year follow-up. Effects were measured in terms of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and costs from a societal perspective, including health care sector costs (health care use, medication, and intervention costs), patient travel costs for health care use, and costs associated with loss of labor. Results: The intervention improved the quality of life compared with only CAU (Δ QALYs=0.059), but at a higher cost (Δ=€4211). However, this increased cost substantially reduced when medication costs were left out of the equation (Δ=€1863). Of all, 93% (930/1000) of the simulated incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were in the North-East quadrant, indicating a high probability that the intervention was effective in improving HRQoL, but at a greater monetary cost for society compared with only CAU. Conclusions: A tailored and guided ICBT intervention as an addition to CAU for patients with rheumatoid arthritis with elevated levels of distress was effective in improving quality of life. Consequently, implementation of ICBT into standard health care for patients with rheumatoid arthritis is recommended. However, further studies on cost reductions in this population are warranted.
- Cognitive behavioral treatment
- Cost-utility analysis
- Internet-based therapy
- Rheumatoid arthritis