NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 5, 2007

A pilot project held at the Newham Centre for Mental Health in east London has revealed that mental health patients who are paid to take their medication exhibit radical improvements to the point where they no longer need to visit their hospital.

Four patients were paid between £5-15 (about US $9.69-29.09) each time they have a 'depot' monthly injection and now three of the four are not having further hospital treatments.  The results echoed similar pilots carried out in the United States and the authors now argue that using money to increase the number of people who take their medication would save the National Health Service (NHS) and local agencies money and other scarce resources.

The article, published in the latest issue of Psychiatric Bulletin, reveals:

  • Of the 150 team managers who were questioned on the possibility of paying mental health patients to take their medicine, only half of them responded and the majority were against it.
  • Three quarters of them stated that it could have a negative effect on the therapeutic relationship between patient and doctor, while others objected because of the impact on NHS budgets.
  • Ten per cent of them admitted to using other incentives, such as food, to assist in "treatment engagement", but not as a direct reward for accepting and actively taking their medication.

Dr Dirk Claassen of East London Community Mental Health Trust, told the BBC: "The results in terms of reduced hospital admissions for the patients who accepted the offer seem beneficial.

"There is no harm intended or caused, the service user can revoke the offer at any time and the treatment is generally available."  Financial incentives might be a treatment option for a high-risk group of non-adherent patients with whom all other interventions to achieve adherence have failed," he added.

Source: "Mental health patients should be paid to take their drugs, say psychiatrists," Craegmoor Healthcare, January 4, 2007.


Browse more articles on Health Issues