By Carrie Heeter, Ph.D, August 23, 2014
High users of health services drive up health care costs. Individuals who are anxious and depressed often focus on and worry about physical sensations and symptoms. As a result, they may seek out health care appointments sooner and more often than necessary to maintain health.
A recent 8 year retrospective analysis of health care utilization comparing high users of health services who were treated with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and patients who received other forms of group in a Canadian hospital system found a significant reduction in health care utilization in the year following MBCT treatment (Kurdyak, Newman, and Sengal, 2014). Specifically, the researchers found one fewer non-mental health visit per year for every two MBCT patients treated.
The researchers analyzed hospital system billing records between 2003 and 2010 and were able to identify and compare 10,633 patients of MCBT physicians and psychiatrists to 29,795 patients of non-MBCT physicians and psychiatrists. (The non-MBCT patients would have experienced group therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy, and/or psychodynamic group psychotherapy). Among patients in the study who were high utilizers of health care, MBCT resulted in a reduction in non-mental health service utilization, and also resulted in fewer psychiatrist visits in the year following therapy. Continue reading