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Psychiatric symptoms, impaired function, and medical care costs in an HMO setting

More information is needed regarding the medical care utilization and costs of individuals who report depressed mood, persistent anxiety, brief anxiety, panic, and trouble controlling violent behavior. We present findings from a 1-year prospective follow-up study of a stratified random sample of adult HMO enrollees (N = 10,377) originally interviewed by telephone. A strong association was observed between these psychiatric symptoms, associated impaired function, and general medical care costs during the year following the interview. After controlling for age, gender, race, medical conditions, and smoking, the mean costs of general medical care were $1,948 for respondents who reported none of the psychiatric symptoms or impaired function: $3,006 for respondents with all 5 symptoms but no impaired function; and $3,906 for those with all 5 symptoms and pervasive functional impairment. Persistent anxiety and depressed mood had the greatest impact on total general medical costs, while impaired function was associated with increased likelihood of hospital admission and emergency room use. We conclude that depressed mood, persistent anxiety, and related impaired function are associated with substantial increases in the use and cost of general medical care.

Authors: Hunkeler EM; Spector WD; Fireman B; Rice DP; Weisner C

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2003 May-Jun;25(3):178-84.

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