Factors That Explain How Policy Makers Distribute Resources to Mental Health Services

Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, University of Chicago, 7230 Arbor Drive, Tinley Park, IL 60477, USA.
Psychiatric Services (Impact Factor: 2.41). 05/2003; 54(4):501-7. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed


Advocates hope to influence the resource allocation decisions of legislators and other policy makers to capture more resources for mental health programs. Findings from social psychological research suggest factors that, if pursued, may improve advocacy efforts. In particular, allocation decisions are affected by policy makers' perceptions of the scarcity of resources, effectiveness of specific programs, needs of people who have problems that are served by these programs, and extent of personal responsibility for these problems. These perceptions are further influenced by political ideology. Conservatives are motivated by a tendency to punish persons who are perceived as having personal responsibility for their problems by withholding resources, whereas liberals are likely to avoid tough allocation decisions. Moreover, these perceptions are affected by political accountability, that is, whether politicians perceive that their constituents will closely monitor their decisions. Just as the quality of clinical interventions improves when informed by basic research on human behavior, the efforts of mental health advocates will be advanced when they understand the psychological forces that affect policy makers' decisions about resources.

25 Reads
  • Source
    • "Over the last decade in particular, the barriers to research translation in health policy have been understood as being about a wide range of factors such as the inherently political nature of policy-making [31], the differing strategic priorities of policy [32], the difficulty of capturing different stakeholder interests that lie outside ‘best practice evidence’ [33], and the ‘real world’ contextual constraints of policy decision-making [34]. The ‘two worlds’ view of the evidence-policy divide—that policy-makers are from Mars and researchers are from Venus—has appeared to dominate ways of understanding the evidence-policy divide [35]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background There is an emerging body of literature suggesting that the evidence-practice divide in health policy is complex and multi-factorial but less is known about the processes by which health policy-makers use evidence and their views about the specific features of useful evidence. This study aimed to contribute to understandings of how the most influential health policy-makers view useful evidence, in ways that help explore and question how the evidence-policy divide is understood and what research might be supported to help overcome this divide. Methods A purposeful sample of 18 national and state health agency CEOs from 9 countries was obtained. Participants were interviewed using open-ended questions that asked them to define specific features of useful evidence. The analysis involved two main approaches 1)quantitative mapping of interview transcripts using Bayesian-based computational linguistics software 2)qualitative critical discourse analysis to explore the nuances of language extracts so identified. Results The decision-making, conclusions-oriented world of policy-making is constructed separately, but not exclusively, by policy-makers from the world of research. Research is not so much devalued by them as described as too technical— yet at the same time not methodologically complex enough to engage with localised policy-making contexts. It is not that policy-makers are negative about academics or universities, it is that they struggle to find complexity-oriented methodologies for understanding their stakeholder communities and improving systems. They did not describe themselves as having a more positive role in solving this challenge than academics. Conclusions These interviews do not support simplistic definitions of policy-makers and researchers as coming from two irreconcilable worlds. They suggest that qualitative and quantitative research is valued by policy-makers but that to be policy-relevant health research may need to focus on building complexity-oriented research methods for local community health and service development. Researchers may also need to better explain and develop the policy-relevance of large statistical generalisable research designs. Policy-makers and public health researchers wanting to serve local community needs may need to be more proactive about questioning whether the dominant definitions of research quality and the research funding levers that drive university research production are appropriately inclusive of excellence in such policy-relevant research.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · BMC Public Health
  • Source
    • "). Corrigan and Watson have also emphasized the impact of perceptions of personal responsibility in making resource allocation decisions, which our participants reflected in their calls to ''handle it [mental illness]'' (Corrigan and Watson 2003). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Insurance coverage for mental health services has historically lagged behind other types of health services. We used a simulation exercise in which groups of laypersons deliberate about healthcare tradeoffs. Groups deciding for their "community" were more likely to select mental health coverage than individuals. Individual prioritization of mental health coverage, however, increased after group discussion. Participants discussed: value, cost and perceived need for mental health coverage, moral hazard and community benefit. A deliberative exercise in priority-setting led a significant proportion of persons to reconsider decisions about coverage for mental health services. Deliberations illustrated public-spiritedness, stigma and significant polarity of views.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research
  • Source
    • "This practice depends on the judgments of decision makers and other stakeholders, or the claims of the community and target groups [31,32]. Although the process can be made rigorous to a certain extent, these methods can be influenced by political ideology, the strength of arguments from special interest groups, and precedent [33,35]. The reality of vested interests is evidenced by the presence of advocacy groups and their lobbying tactics on policy makers, who in turn hold their own ideological beliefs which affect resource allocation decisions [35]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Efficiency and equity are both important policy objectives in resource allocation. The discipline of health economics has traditionally focused on maximising efficiency, however addressing inequities in health also requires consideration. Methods to incorporate equity within economic evaluation techniques range from qualitative judgements to quantitative outcomes-based equity weights. Yet, due to definitional uncertainties and other inherent limitations, no method has been universally adopted to date. This paper proposes an alternative cost-based equity weight for use in the economic evaluation of interventions delivered from primary health care services. Equity is defined in terms of 'access' to health services, with the vertical equity objective to achieve 'equitable access for unequal need'. Using the Australian Indigenous population as an illustrative case study, the magnitude of the equity weight is constructed using the ratio of the costs of providing specific interventions via Indigenous primary health care services compared with the costs of the same interventions delivered via mainstream services. Applying this weight to the costs of subsequent interventions deflates the costs of provision via Indigenous health services, and thus makes comparisons with mainstream more equitable when applied during economic evaluation. Based on achieving 'equitable access', existing measures of health inequity are suitable for establishing 'need', however the magnitude of health inequity is not necessarily proportional to the magnitude of resources required to redress it. Rather, equitable access may be better measured using appropriate methods of health service delivery for the target group. 'Equity of access' also suggests a focus on the processes of providing equitable health care rather than on outcomes, and therefore supports application of equity weights to the cost side rather than the outcomes side of the economic equation. Cost-based weights have the potential to provide a pragmatic method of equity weight construction which is both understandable to policy makers and sensitive to the needs of target groups. It could improve the evidence base for resource allocation decisions, and be generalised to other disadvantaged groups who share similar concepts of equity. Development of this decision-making tool represents a potentially important avenue for further health economics research.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2009 · International Journal for Equity in Health
Show more