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Int J Ment Health Syst. 2008 Jul 5;2(1):10. doi: 10.1186/1752-4458-2-10.

Does community care work? A model to evaluate the effectiveness of mental health services.

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1
Dipartimento di Salute Mentale dell'Azienda Ospedaliera "G, Salvini", Garbagnate Milanese, Italy. emiliano.monzani@fastwebnet.it

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of community Mental Health Departments in Lombardy (Italy), and analyse the eventual differences in outcome produced by different packages of care. The survey was conducted in 2000 on 4,712 patients treated in ten Mental Health Departments. Patients were assessed at least twice in a year with HoNOS (Health of the Nation Outcome Scales). Data on treatment packages were drawn from the regional mental health information system, which includes all outpatient and day-care contacts, as well as general hospital and inpatient admissions provided by Mental Health Departments. Multilevel growth models were used for outcomes statistical analysis, expressed in terms of change of the total HoNOS score. On the whole, Mental Health Departments were effective in reducing HoNOS scores. The main predictor of improvement was treatment, while length of care, gender and diagnosis were weaker predictors. After severity adjustment, some packages of care proved more effective than others. Appropriate statistical methods, comprehensive treatment descriptions and routine outcome assessment tools are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of community mental health services in clinical settings.

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