Cost effectiveness of three child mental health assessment methods: computer-assisted assessment is effective and inexpensive

J Ment Health Adm. Spring 1990;17(1):99-107. doi: 10.1007/BF02518584.


In order to survive severe funding reductions, community mental health centers (CMHCs) have implemented a number of systems-level interventions that attempt to minimize the impact of budget cuts on treatment effectiveness. The present study focused on ways to maintain the effectiveness of clinical assessment while lowering the assessment cost. The present study evaluated the relative cost effectiveness of three methods for collecting information and developing clinical assessment reports on children at a CMHC: (a) a traditional narrative clinical assessment report; (b) a form-style clinical assessment; and (c) a computer-assisted clinical assessment. The results revealed that the computer-assisted assessments was at least as effective as the two alternative assessment methods and only 20 percent to 45 percent as costly. The effect of using the computer-assisted assessments was reported to be favorable by therapists. While computer technology can be used to cut service delivery costs, the use of computers in CMHCs has generally been limited to administrative tasks, and clinical applications have been ignored.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services / economics*
  • Community Mental Health Services / economics*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / statistics & numerical data
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / economics*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • United States