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Milbank Q. 1994;72(1):37-47.

Evaluating the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program on chronic mental illness.

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  • 1University of Maryland, Department of Psychiatry, Baltimore 21201-1549.


Community-based services for mentally ill individuals have developed in a fragmented and uncoordinated manner over the last 30 years. In response, the RWJF initiated a five-year demonstration in nine cities: the Program on Chronic Mental Illness (CMI). The project's background is described, as are its accomplishments and limitations. One outcome of sponsorship by the RWJF and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was to assure the problem of CMI a place in the public policy agenda. Despite specific improvements in quality of life for individuals with CMI, however, there was no general improvement for this population. The program thus demonstrated that structural changes alone are insufficient; quality of care must be attended to as well. Despite its drawbacks, the project revealed that interventions can be implemented with positive results.

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