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Harv Rev Psychiatry. 1998 Jul-Aug;6(2):88-96.

Assessing the quality of psychiatric care: research methods and application in clinical practice.

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Department of Mental Health Services Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


The drive to contain the costs of health care in the United States is focusing attention on how quality of care is affected. This article discusses research methods for assessing the quality of psychiatric care and reviews findings from some major studies evaluating care. These findings are mixed, highlighting areas in which quality of care is less than optimal, as well as the importance of continued research and the need to develop better research methods. Evidence-based criteria and more-sensitive risk-adjustment techniques must be employed if data on quality are to yield fair comparisons among health plans. The challenge is to refine the methods now in use at both the research and clinical levels, so that better-quality assessments can be made for policy formulation, physician education, and consumer choice.

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