The Effects and Costs of Personalized Budgets for People with Disabilities: A Systematic Review

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Dec 4;19(23):16225. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192316225.


This article reviews the peer-reviewed and grey literature published from January 1985 to November 2022 that has quantitatively evaluated the effects of personalized budgets for people with disabilities (PwDs), in terms of a range of benefit and cost outcomes. Benefit metrics of interest comprised measures of well-being, service satisfaction and use, quality of life, health, and unmet needs. A search was conducted using the PsycINFO, MEDLINE, CINAHL, ASSIA, and Social Care Online databases. Based on inclusion criteria and a quality assessment using the Downs and Black Checklist, a final count of 23 studies were identified for in-depth review. Given the heterogeneous nature of the studies, a narrative synthesis, rather than a formal meta-analysis, was undertaken. Taking the relatively scarce and often methodologically limited evidence base at face value, the findings suggest that-overall-personalized budget users tend to benefit in terms of well-being and service satisfaction outcomes, with the exception of mixed effects for people with mental health conditions. Only a minority of studies have investigated the cost-effectiveness or costs-only of personalized budgets, finding mixed results. Two out of the three cost-effectiveness studies find personal budgets to be more cost-effective than alternative options, meaning that the possibly higher costs of personalized budgets may be more than outweighed by additional benefits. Some evidence looking at service use and/or costs only also points to significant reductions in certain service use areas, which at least hints at the potential that personalized budgeting may-in some cases-entail reduced costs. Further research is needed to explore the generalizability of these conclusions and to better capture and understand the factors driving the observed heterogeneity in some of the results.

Keywords: cost-effectiveness; disability; personal budgets; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Budgets
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Quality of Life