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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1996 Aug;35(8):1055-63.

Outcomes of mental health care for children and adolescents: I. A comprehensive conceptual model.

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  • 1National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, MD, USA.



Accountability for mental health care has become a standard of clinical practice. With the expansion of managed care as a corporate response to health reform, attention to outcomes will intensity. Assessment of clinical treatment has typically focused on symptom reduction at an individual level, whereas assessment of service effectiveness has more often targeted service-level change.


A dynamic and interactional model of outcomes is presented that broadens the range of intended consequences of care. The model comprises five domains: symptoms, functioning, consumer perspectives, environmental contexts, and systems.


The model reflects the changeable interaction between children's evolving capacities and their primary environments (home, school, and community).


As health care practices shift, attention to improved care is likely to depend increasingly on scientifically credible evidence of its impact. Greater integration between research and standard practice will be needed. Such a partnership can be strengthened by a more comprehensive view of the impact of care.

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