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Defining and Predicting High Cost Utilization in Children’s Outpatient Mental Health Services


Little is known about high-cost service users in the context of youth outpatient mental health, despite the fact that they account for a large proportion of overall mental healthcare expenditures. A nuanced understanding of these users is critical to develop and implement tailored services, as well as to inform relevant policies. This study aims to characterize high-cost service users by examining demographic factors, diagnoses, and service type use. Administrative service use data were extracted from a large County Department of Behavioral Health Services database. Latent profile analyses suggest a four-profile solution primarily distinguished by youth age and diagnostic complexity. Study findings have implications for defining high-cost service users and key targets for efforts aiming to improve outcomes for these youth.

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