Increased utilization of health care services after psychotherapy: a register based study

Morten Munthe Fenger, Stig Bernt Poulsen, Erik Lykke Mortensen, Marianne Engelbrecht Lau


Psychotherapeutic treatment is associated with significant reduction of symptoms in patients, and it is generally assumed that treatment improves health and decreases the need for additional health care. The present study investigates the long-term changes in utilization of health care services for patients referred to psychotherapeutic treatment in 2004 and 2005.
The study was a matched control study, which included 716 consecutive patients and 15,220 matched controls. Data from a comprehensive set of health care services were collected from central registries for an observation period of four years before intake and four years after ended treatment. Changes in utilization of health care services in eight health parameters were analyzed with t-test and with ANCOVA one and four year pre-post treatment.


Of the 761 patients, 216 patients did not show up for treatment, while 545 patients completed treatment; 228 responded and 201 did not respond to treatment. Data on treatment response was missing for the remaining 116 patients. Completer patients increased their use of all health care services with 296% (ES=0.58) in the four year pre-post comparison, while the control group only increased with 99% (ES=0.23). Four years after ended treatment completer patients still showed a consumption of health care services significantly above the control group on five out of eight health care parameters. Response status only affected one health care parameter.


Over a long-term period psychotherapy patients increased their utilization of health care services with a factor 3 compared to a control group.
TidsskriftEuropean Psychiatry
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)1
Antal sider1
StatusUdgivet - 2012