Estimated Mental Health Care Utilization and Costs in Rural Areas

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project completed:
April 2003
Evidence suggests that the prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse problems is similar in rural and urban adults. However, few studies examine the utilization and costs of all types of mental health care services (traditional, nontraditional, and prescription drug therapy) for rural residents compared to the non-rural population. This study will compare the utilization and costs associated with outpatient, inpatient, and prescription drugs as well as other therapies for people living in urban versus rural areas, according to MSA designation. Data will be obtained from the 1996 and 1997 Medical Expenditure Survey (MEPS). Because of the longitudinal nature of MEPS, we will be able to investigate the utilization and costs over time. In addition, MEPS will allow our models to control for age, race, type of provider, and insurance coverage status. This analysis will assist in targeting policy, research, and programs to improve mental health care in rural populations.

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