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Psychiatr Serv. 1998 Apr;49(4):477-82.

Outpatient utilization patterns of integrated and split psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for depression.

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  • 1United Behavioral Health, San Francisco, CA 94105-2426, USA. bgoldma@uhc.com



This exploratory study examined utilization and costs among depressed patients in two treatment models-integrated treatment, in which psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy were provided by a psychiatrist, and split treatment, in which pharmacotherapy was provided by a psychiatrist and psychotherapy by a nonphysician psychotherapist.


A quasi-experimental retrospective design was used to compare claims data from a national managed mental health care organization for 191 patients in integrated treatment and 1,326 in split treatment.


During the 18-month study, patients receiving integrated treatment used significantly fewer outpatient sessions and had significantly lower treatment costs, on average, than those in split treatment. Integrated treatment appeared to be associated with a pattern of utilization characterized by frequent treatment episodes in contrast to that of split treatment, which was characterized by more sessions with fewer breaks of 90 days or more.


The results do not support the prevailing assumption that integrated treatment is more costly than split treatment in a managed care network. Despite limitations in the study methods, the strength of these preliminary findings poses a powerful challenge and invites further study.

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