Costs to Community Mental Health Agencies to Sustain an Evidence-Based Practice.

Psychiatr Serv 2017 Sep 1;68(9):876-882. Epub 2017 May 1.

Dr. Roundfield is with the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco. At the time of this study, she was with the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, and with the Child Health and Development Institute, Farmington, Connecticut. Dr. Lang is with the Child Health and Development Institute and the Department of Psychiatry, UCONN Health, Farmington.

Objective: Dissemination of evidence-based practices (EBPs) has become a priority in children's mental health services. Although implementation approaches and initiatives are proliferating, little is known about sustainment of EBPs, but evidence suggests that most EBPs are not sustained for more than a few years. Cost is the most frequently cited barrier to sustainment, yet very little is known about these costs. This study provides a method for quantifying incremental costs of an EBP compared with usual care and preliminary data on the costs in staff time, lost revenue, and other expenses of sustaining an EBP (trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy [TF-CBT]) in community mental health settings.

Methods: Fourteen community mental health agencies (CMHAs) completed a measure developed for this study to collect administrative data on implementation costs to sustain TF-CBT. Survey items captured activities that were related specifically to TF-CBT and that would not otherwise be conducted for usual care, such as TF-CBT training. Staff time in hours was converted to monetary estimates.

Results: Costs varied widely across agencies. Preliminary results indicated that agencies spent on average $65,192 per year (2014 U.S.$) on incremental costs for TF-CBT sustainment (excluding costs of external trainers and other support); the average incremental cost per client was $1,896.

Conclusions: The costs to sustain the EBP suggest that maintaining an EBP is a financial burden for CMHAs and that these costs can be a potential barrier to broader EBP uptake. Implications for public policy include providing reimbursement rates and financial incentives to offset potential implementation costs and promote sustainment of EBPs.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201600193DOI Listing
September 2017
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