Research Brief: Making the Business Case for Self-Directed Care

Date: 06/2019

Author(s): HSRI

How does self-direction alter service use patterns, and is it more expensive than traditional treatment models?  To find out, HSRI researchers and colleagues looked at data from 45 participants in a program in Pennsylvania - comparing the amounts, types, and costs of mental health services used by people before and after they began participating in self-direction.

This Research Brief summarizes the results of the new research. The study – conducted by a team from HSRI, Live & Learn, Inc. and the Temple Institute for Community Inclusion – looked at standardized monthly use and costs for four categories of mental health services:

  • Crisis & inpatient
  • Mental health clinical outpatient
  • Mental health community support and coordination
  • Alcohol and other drug outpatient and community-based services

In the study data, overall, self-direction was cost-neutral:

  • There were no significant differences in service use for participants before and after their participation in the self-direction program; that is, the percentage of people who used at least one of these services in a month did not change significantly. 
  • There was a drop of $41.83 in average monthly cost for participants’ use of mental health clinical outpatient services due to lower use of these services.

The study is published online in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal.

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