Center for Health Policy and Research (CHPR) Publications


Measuring resource use in economic evaluations: determining the social costs of mental illness

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Center for Health Policy and Research; Clinical and Population Health Research

Publication Date


Document Type



*Cost of Illness; Cost-Benefit Analysis; Data Collection; Health Services Research; Humans; Mental Disorders; Mental Health Services; Reproducibility of Results; Social Values; United States; Utilization Review


Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Public Health


Concern over costs associated with mental disorders has led to an increase in the number of economic evaluations of treatment interventions; unfortunately, methods for measuring resource use have not kept pace with this concern. Although it is well-known that a significant proportion of the costs associated with mental illness are for resources other than treatment, program evaluators and researchers often count only treatment costs in cost-effectiveness comparisons. Further, existing methods for measuring resource use are plagued by faulty assumptions about resource use, poor validity and reliability, and difficulties quantifying resource use. The authors discuss these problems and suggest five ways of improving measurement of nontreatment resources: clarifying assumptions, using multiple data sources, flexible data collection strategies, methods for improving the accuracy of recall, and an episodic approach to measurement.


J Ment Health Adm. 1994 Winter;21(1):32-41.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of mental health administration

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed