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UPMC Study to Determine Best Course of Action for Mental Health Treatments

Over the next three years, researchers across Pennsylvania will be examining two different methods of mental health treatment, to determine which has the better outcomes. One of those is the Person-Centered approach.

“That’s focusing on the person who has a behavioral health condition getting support and information from a peer, someone who also has the experience, to prepare for the meetings with their doctors,” said

Kim MacDonald-Wilson is with the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care.

The center’s study will build upon work already done Community Care Behavioral Health Organization (Community Care) and others. The second method which will be examined is the Measurement-Based approach.

“That is one where individuals coming into a medication clinic will complete standardized measures about their health condition and their treatment and that information is computerized and provided to the doctor so that he or she has good information to help that person make decisions about their treatment and care,” said MacDonald-Wilson.

The study will put side by side the two evidence-based, technology-supported methods and see which works best for those with serious mental illness and under what circumstances in an effort to maximize care for those with mental health issues.

“Typically a medication appointment in an outpatient clinic only lasts about ten to fifteen minutes, so that’s a real brief interaction with doctors and there’s less than enough time to really focus on individual needs and what will really help them in their behavioral health condition,” said MacDonald-Wilson.

Each method has its benefits. With the Measurement-Based approach, having all medications documented and easily accessible by a doctor helps improve treatment, and the Person-Centered Approach may help battle some of the social stigma that surrounds mental health issues.

“People get an opportunity to interact with, get the support from, have shared experiences with people who’ve gone through similar situations and help them prepare to talk with their doctors,” said MacDonald-Wilson.

The “Amplifying the Patient’s Voice: Person-Centered Versus Measurement-Based Approaches in Mental Health,” is funded by a $2.1 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI.) Fourteen community mental health centers across the state have agreed to participate and be randomly assigned to one of the two approaches. More than 6,000 to 8,000 people may be eligible to participate. The study is slated to start in April and conclude in March 2017.