This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
About one in six Americans lives with anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, schizophrenia, or some other mental health condition. Mental health care providers can help patients manage some conditions and recover from others.
However, not all mental health care providers are skilled in treating all kinds of mental health conditions. Further, when patients need mental health care, doctors often refer them to providers by chance or convenience. The research team wants to compare improvement rates for patients matched with a mental health care provider who has established effectiveness at treating the patients’ specific needs with improvement rates for patients matched to a mental health care provider by chance.
Who can this research help?
Results from this study can help health system administrators decide whether to track mental health care providers’ results in treating different conditions and use that information to match patients and providers.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is working with a network of community mental health care providers. The team is inviting 264 patients who have referrals for mental health care to join the study. All patients in the study are completing an initial diagnostic interview and a survey about their mental health needs. The survey includes questions about symptoms, relationships, suicide risk, sleep, substance use, and other topics. Patients then receive a referral to a mental health care provider in one of two ways:
- For one group of patients, an intake worker assigns a mental health care provider by chance, based on usual considerations like provider availability, schedule, or the provider’s self-reported specialty.
- For the second group of patients, a computer matches each patient’s survey results with records about mental health care providers’ skill in treating that patient’s most severe condition. The computer the assigns the patient to a provider whose other patients with that condition improved over time.
The research team is following patients until they stop seeing the mental health care provider or through four months of treatment. Patients complete the same mental health survey that informed matching several times throughout their treatment and at their final sessions or fourth month. At the final time point, patients also report their satisfaction with their treatments. The research team is also collecting interview-based diagnostic information before and after treatment. The team is comparing how patients’ outcomes change in each group.
The research team is working with a project advisory board that includes mental health care patients, providers, and administrators.