Patterns of Medical Resource and Psychotropic Medicine Use Among Adult Depressed Managed Behavioral Health Patients

Published in: Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, v. 31, no. 1, Jan./Mar. 2004, p. 26-37

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2003

by Francisca Azocar, Loren M. McCarter, Brian J. Cuffel, Thomas Croghan

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Medical and pharmacy utilization patterns were examined among 782 depressed patients seen by independent clinicians through a Managed Behavioral Health Organization using behavioral, medical and pharmacy claims spanning two years. Two-thirds received psychiatric care in the medical and mental health sector concurrently, 43% had comorbid medical disorders, 61% received psychotropic medications, and 54% were on antidepressants. Fewer depressed medically comorbid patients used medical services while in mental health treatment than before or after treatment, while the per patient costs remained the same. For those with chronic conditions, medical utilization and costs remained the same. A quarter of depressed patients received mental health treatment before seeing a mental health specialist, and a quarter remained in treatment in the medical sector after treatment in the mental health sector. Despite increases in mental health services access made available through managed behavioral health organizations, patients continue receiving mental health treatment in the medical sector.

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