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University of South Florida · College of Behavioral & Community Sciences · Mental Health Law & Policy


Key Personnel:
Richard B. Smith, Ph.D.
Mary Armstrong, Ph.D.
Christine S. Davis, Ph.D.

The Effect of Health Knowledge and Literacy on Utilization, Cost, Service Quality, and Quality of Life in Children and Adult Medicaid Mental Health Consumers

Publication Date: 6/1/2006

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Consumers are becoming more directly involved in the maintenance and promotion of their own health and in determining the kinds of health care services they receive. For this reason, it is important to understand how consumer knowledge influences behavioral healthcare outcomes (e.g., utilization and service quality) that ultimately affect the quality of their health and life. In 2006, a multiphase project to assess the impact of behavioral health knowledge and literacy on behavioral health outcomes was initiated. Our research group has defined and created psychometric measures of behavioral health knowledge and literacy and developed an analytical model for assessing their impact on behavioral health service outcomes and patient health. Under the auspices of AHCA support for the evaluation of the Medicaid Managed Mental Health programs, the researchers reviewed the relevant literature on health and behavioral health literacy to create lists of variables and concepts that could be associated with an operational measure of behavioral health literacy and knowledge. The researchers refined these lists through the use of focus groups consisting of behavioral health providers, patients, and caregivers of children with severe emotional disturbances (SED) in the Tampa Bay area.