(Cost)-effectiveness and implementation of integrated community-based care for patients with severe mental illness: A study protocol

Anne Kleijburg, Ben Wijnen, Silvia M A A Evers, Hans Kroon, Joran Lokkerbol

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As severe mental illness (SMI) is associated with a high disease burden and persistent nature, patients with SMI are often subjected to long-term mental healthcare and are in need of additional social support services. Community-based care and support services are organized via different providers and institutions, which are often lacking structural communication, resulting in a fragmented approach. To improve the efficiency of care provision and optimize patient wellbeing, an integrated multi-agency approach to community-based mental health and social services has been developed and implemented.


To present a research protocol describing the evaluation of flexible assertive community teams integrated with social services in terms of effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and implementation.


A quasi-experimental study will be conducted using prospective and retrospective observational data in patients with severe mental illness. Patients receiving care from three teams, consisting of flexible assertive community treatment and separately provided social support services (care as usual), will be compared to patients receiving care from two teams integrating these mental and social services into a single team. The study will consist of three parts: 1) an effectiveness evaluation, 2) a health-economic evaluation, and 3) a process implementation evaluation. To assess (cost-)effectiveness, both real-world aggregated and individual patient data will be collected using informed consent, and analysed using a longitudinal mixed model. The economic evaluation will consist of a cost-utility analysis and a cost-effectiveness analysis. For the process and implementation evaluation a mixed method design will be used to describe if the integrated teams have been implemented as planned, if its predefined goals are achieved, and what the experiences are of its team members.


The integration of health and social services is expected to allow for a more holistic and recovery oriented treatment approach, whilst improving the allocation of scarce resources. This study aims to identify and describe these effects using a mixed-method approach, and support decision-making in the structural implementation of integrating mental and social services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number697
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Humans
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Community Mental Health Services/methods
  • Mental Disorders/therapy


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