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Faculty of Social Work


Background: An increasing number of family service agencies and community-based mental health service providers are implementing a single-session walk-in counselling (SSWIC) as an alternative to traditional counselling. However, few economic evaluations have been undertaken.

Aims: To conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of two models of service delivery, SSWIC compared to being waitlisted for traditional counselling.

Methods: A quasi-experimental design was employed. Data were collected from two community-based Family Service Agencies, one using SSWIC and one using traditional counselling. Participants were assessed at baseline and four weeks after the baseline. Cost-effectiveness was estimated from the societal and payer’s perspective.

Results: The societal and payer’s costs for SSWIC were higher than for those waiting for traditional counselling, and health outcomes were better. SSWIC is not cost-effective compared to being on the waitlist for traditional counselling (or, for a few patients, having received counselling, but after a wait of several weeks).

Conclusions: SSWIC has the potential to reduce the pressure on the mental health care system by reducing emergency visits and wait lists for ongoing mental health services and eliminating costly-no shows at counselling appointments. Long-term studies involving multiple walk-in counselling services and comparison services are needed to support the findings of this study.