Among its principal goals, the community mental health model aims at reducing disability due to mental illness through early crisis intervention. A large midwest regional center has been conducting a series of outcome evaluation studies to test the effectiveness and productivity of the community-oriented approach.
The present investigation reports on a four-year comparative study of all seriously disturbed persons from a ten-county area who were hospitalized for the first time. The center group had fewer days hospitalized, less disability, less total cost per patient and per capita, as well as, a lower cost-benefit ratio than traditional state hospitals. Neither system of care, however, was successful with a small hardcore group of long-term patients.
The study findings were used as feedback by the center's administration to modify the overall program and allocation of available resources.