The impact of support services teams: Community-based behavioral health support interventions

Owen, R., Bowers, A., Heller, T., Hsieh, K. and Gould, R. (2016).  The impact of support services teams: Community-based behavioral health support interventions. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities. doi:10.1111/jppi.12186.


Background: Community capacity to serve people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) and behavioral health challenges is often limited. Using interdisciplinary teams to work with stakeholders, including people with IDD, their families, providers, and agencies may help increase this capacity. One example in the United States is the Support Services Teams (SST) program of a midwestern state. Specific Aims: This research aimed to identify changes before to after referral to SST in the proportion of people who used and the total number of admissions/visits, and prescriptions; and the Medicaid liability associated with emergency room (ER), hospital, and pharmacy services for SST participants. Second, the research described the SST participants and services provided. Method: The authors used Wilcoxon and McNemar’s tests to compare hospital, ER, and pharmacy outcome measures for 109 people who were referred to SST and had 12 months of data before and after referral. Separate analyses were also conducted for the 88 people who remained in the community after referral and the 21 people who had short institutional stays. Findings: For the full population of SST participants, the proportion of people with a hospital admission, the total number of hospital admissions, and Medicaid liability for hospitalizations significantly decreased from before to after referral to SST. Medicaid liability for prescriptions significantly decreased for people with an institutional stay. Changes in the other outcomes trended downwards, although not significantly. Discussion: This study shows that the use of interdisciplinary teams for people with IDD and behavioral health challenges can be effective in reducing the use of services. These teams can help to build community capacity to work with these individuals and avoid more costly ER and hospital services and reduce the number of medications prescribed.

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