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Psychiatr Serv. 2004 May;55(5):548-54.

Treatment costs for youths receiving multisystemic therapy or hospitalization after a psychiatric crisis.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, MUSC, 67 President Street, Suite CPP, Box 250861, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.



The authors conducted a cost analysis for multisystemic therapy, an evidence-based treatment that is used as an intensive community-based alternative to the hospitalization of youths presenting with psychiatric emergencies.


Data from a randomized clinical trial that compared multisystemic therapy with usual inpatient services followed by community aftercare were used to compare Medicaid costs and clinical outcomes during a four-month period postreferral and a 12-month follow-up period. Data were from 115 families receiving Medicaid (out of 156 families in the clinical trial).


During the four months postreferral, multisystemic therapy was associated with an average net savings per youth treated of $1,617 compared with usual services. Costs during the 12-month follow-up period were similar between treatments. Multisystemic therapy demonstrated better short-term cost-effectiveness for each of the clinical outcomes (externalizing behavior, internalizing behavior, and global severity of symptoms) than did usual inpatient care and community aftercare. The two treatments demonstrated equivalent long-term cost-effectiveness.


Among youths presenting with psychiatric emergencies, multisystemic therapy was associated with better outcomes at a lower cost during the initial postreferral period and with equivalent costs and outcomes during the 12-month follow-up period.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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