Cost-effectiveness of assertive community treatment for homeless persons with severe mental illness

Lehman, Anthony F.; Dixon, Lisa; Hoch, Jeffrey S.; Deforge, Bruce; Kernan, Elmer; Frank, Richard; Lehman, A F; Dixon, L; Hoch, J S; Deforge, B; Kernan, E; Frank, R
April 1999
British Journal of Psychiatry;Apr99, Vol. 174, p346
Academic Journal
journal article
Background: Homelessness is a major public health problem among persons with severe mental illness (SMI). Cost-effective programmes that address this problem are needed.Aims: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of an assertive community treatment (ACT) programme for these persons in Baltimore, Maryland.Methods: A total of 152 homeless persons with SMI were randomly allocated to either ACT or usual services. Direct treatment costs and effectiveness, represented by days of stable housing, were assessed.Results: Compared with usual care, ACT costs were significantly lower for mental health in-patient days and mental health emergency room care, and significantly higher for mental health out-patient visits and treatment for substance misuse. ACT patients spent 31% more days in stable housing than those receiving usual care. ACT and usual services incurred $242 and $415 respectively in direct treatment costs per day of stable housing, an efficiency ratio of 0.58 in favour of ACT. Patterns of care and costs varied according to race.Conclusion: ACT provides a cost-effective approach to reducing homelessness among persons with severe and persistent mental illnesses.


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