BACKGROUND: Depressive and anxiety disorders cause great suffering and disability and are associated with high health care costs. In a previous conducted pragmatic randomised controlled trial, we have shown that a concise format of cognitive behavioural- and/or pharmacotherapy is as effective as standard care in reducing depressive and anxiety symptoms and in improving subdomains of general health and quality of life in secondary care psychiatric outpatients. AIMS OF THE STUDY: In this economic evaluation, we examined whether a favourable cost-utility of concise care compared to standard care was attained. METHODS: The economic evaluation was performed alongside a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. Health-related quality of life was measured using the Short-Form (SF-36) questionnaire. Cost of healthcare utilization and productivity loss (absenteeism and presenteeism) were assessed using the Trimbos/iMTA questionnaire for Costs associated with Psychiatric Illness (TiC-P). A cost-utility analysis, using cost-effectiveness acceptability curves, comparing differences in societal costs and Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) at 1 year was performed. RESULTS: One year after study entry, the difference in mean cost per patient of the two primary treatments was not significant between both groups. No significant differences in other healthcare and non- healthcare costs could be detected between patients receiving concise care and standard care. Also, QALYs were not statistically different between the groups during the study period. From both the societal and healthcare perspective, the probability that concise care is more cost-effective compared to standard care remains below the turning point of 0.5 for all acceptable values of the willingness to pay for a QALY. The economic evaluation suggests that concise care is unlikely to be cost-effective compared to standard care in the treatment for depressive- and anxiety disorders in secondary mental health care during a one year follow up period. DISCUSSION: Total costs and QALYs were not significantly different between standard and concise care, with no evidence for cost-effectiveness of concise care in the first year. The longer impact of concise care for patients with mild to moderate symptoms of depressive and/or anxiety disorders compared to standard care in secondary care needs to be further studied. IMPLICATIONS: This economic evaluation failed to find significant differences in cost between concise and standard care over the study period of one year. Replication of our economic evaluation might benefit from an extended follow-up period and strict adherence to the study protocol. If concise care will be found to be cost-effective in the long term, this would have major implications for recommendations how to optimize secondary mental health care in the treatment of depressive - and anxiety disorders.