Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 127–138 | Cite as

The Medical Offset Effect: Patterns in Outpatient Services Reduction for High Utilizers of Health Care

  • D. Russell Crane
  • Jacob D. Christenson
Original Paper


Psychosocial intervention has been found to be related to subsequent reductions in health care use. Studies generally measure this “offset effect” by combining medical use categories into one outcome variable, such as outpatient doctor visits. However, using a general outcome variable may obscure more specific patterns of reduction. In an effort to identify potential “targets” for mental health intervention, outpatient care for health screening, illness visits, laboratory/X-ray, and urgent care were considered. Health care use reductions were most prominent for high utilizers and were found across a number of different types of outpatient care. With high utilizers, those who participated in MFT showed significant reductions of 68% for health screening visits, 38% for illness visits, 56% for laboratory/X-ray visits, and 78% for urgent care visits.


Family therapy effectiveness Health care High utilizers of health care Cost eccectiveness Effectiveness research Cost effectiveness of marital/couple and family therapy Outpatient health care Ambulatory care 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marriage and Family Therapy ProgramBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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