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Dynamics of the mental health workforce: investigating the composition of physicians and other health providers

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  • Theodore Stefos

    ()

  • James Burgess

    ()

  • Jeffrey Cohen

    ()

  • Laura Lehner

    ()

  • Eileen Moran

    ()

Abstract

We evaluate how changes to mental health workforce levels, composition, and degree of labor substitution, may impact typical practice output. Using a generalized Leontief production function and data from 134 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health practices, we estimate the q-complementarity/q-substitutability of mental health workers. We look at the entire spectrum of mental health services rather than just outpatient or physician office services. We also examine more labor types, including residents, than previous studies. The marginal patient care output contribution is estimated for each labor type as well as the degree to which physicians and other mental health workers may be substitutes or complements. Results indicate that numerous channels exist through which input substitution can improve productivity. Seven of eight labor and capital inputs have positive estimated marginal products. Most factor inputs exhibit diminishing marginal productivity. Of 28 unique labor-capital pairs, 17 are q-complements and 11 are q-substitutes. Complementarity among several labor types provides evidence of a team approach to mental health service provision. Our approach may serve to better inform healthcare providers regarding more productive mental health workforce composition both in and outside of VA. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC (outside the USA) 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Theodore Stefos & James Burgess & Jeffrey Cohen & Laura Lehner & Eileen Moran, 2012. "Dynamics of the mental health workforce: investigating the composition of physicians and other health providers," Health Care Management Science, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 373-384, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:hcarem:v:15:y:2012:i:4:p:373-384
    DOI: 10.1007/s10729-012-9203-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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