Factors influencing short-term effectiveness and efficiency of the care provided by Dutch general practice mental health professionals
Introduction: This study examined whether factors related to general practice mental health professionals (GP-MHPs), that is, characteristics of the professional, the function, and the care provided, were associated with short-term effectiveness and efficiency of the care provided by GP-MHPs to adults in Dutch general practice.
Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted among 320 adults with anxiety or depressive symptoms who had an intake consultation with GP-MHPs (n = 64). Effectiveness was measured in terms of change in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) 3 months after intake; and efficiency in terms of net monetary benefit (NMB) at 3-month follow-up. A range of GP-MHP-related predictors and patient-related confounders was considered.
Results: Patients gained on average 0.022 QALYs at 3-month follow-up. The mean total costs per patient during the 3-month follow-up period (€3,864; 95% confidence interval [CI]: €3,196-€4,731) decreased compared to that during the 3 months before intake (€5,220; 95% CI: €4,639–€5,925), resulting largely from an increase in productivity. Providing mindfulness and/or relaxation exercises was associated with QALY decrement. Having longer work experience as a GP-MHP (≥2 years) and having 10-20 years of work experience as a mental health care professional were negatively associated with NMB. Furthermore, a higher number of homework exercises tended to be related to less efficient care. Finally, being self-employed and being seconded from an organization in which primary care and mental health care organizations collaborate were related to a positive NMB, while being seconded from a mental health organization tended towards such a relationship.
Conclusions: Findings seem to imply that the care provided by GP-MHPs contributes to improving patients’ functioning. Some GP-MHP-related characteristics appear to influence short-term effectiveness and efficiency of the care provided. Further research is needed to confirm and better explain these findings and to examine longer-term effects.
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