BACKGROUND Little evidence exists regarding the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of alternative treatment services in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry.
AIMS To assess the cost-effectiveness of a home-based social work intervention for young people who have deliberately poisoned themselves.
METHOD Children aged < or = 16 years, referred to child mental health teams with a diagnosis of deliberate self-poisoning were randomly allocated to either routine care (n = 77) or routine care plus the social work intervention (n = 85). Clinical and resource-use data were assessed over six months from the date of trial entry.
RESULTS No significant differences were found between the two groups in terms of the main outcome measures or costs. In a sub-group of children without major depression, suicidal ideation was significantly lower in the intervention group at the six-month follow-up (P = 0.01), with no significant differences in cost.
CONCLUSIONS A family-based social work intervention for children and adolescents who have deliberately poisoned themselves is as cost-effective as routine care alone.