What is Measurement-Based Care?
The term Measurement-Based Care (MBC) refers to a process in which a clinician uses certain measurements throughout the treatment process to determine the client’s progress and current symptom trajectory. MBC is a systematic procedure of data collection that is implemented to gauge a client’s progress and is used to directly inform care decisions.
Measurement-based care is done at the individual patient level to rate symptoms and make effective decisions as the treatment progresses. It maximizes the likelihood that nonresponse to the treatment is detected and corrected by the provider and can help confirm treatment progress.
Why is it used?
Research suggests that when MBC is used to inform clinical care, treatment outcomes are significantly superior when compared to treatment as usual. Measurement-based care can be applied in different treatment modalities and approaches, with the over-arching goal of improving patient response.
Improvements associated with Measurement-Based Care:
Improvements in provider behavior
Measurement-Based Care is used to overcome clinical inertia. You can define clinical inertia as the failure to develop certain targets and escalate treatment to reach treatment goals. It may illustrate the need to change the treatment plan if a patient does not respond to treatment, which may call for additional consultations or a referral depending on the condition in question.
It also facilitates the detection of residual symptoms and prompts the clinicians to revise the treatment plan until the patient’s target symptoms have resolved. It also facilitates more clear collaboration and coordination across providers, patients, and care managers but standardizing measurements of symptom severity.
Improvements in patient behavior
Measurement-based care may also help patients by making them more knowledgeable about their disorders, which in turn, may enable the patient to be more informed and aware of their treatment progress. This may help them recognize their progress in an objective way and motivate them to participate more meaningfully. Patients may also better attune themselves to their symptoms and become aware of their symptom fluctuations over time. Further, they may better understand if they are having any warning signs and then engage with appropriate coping skills or strategies.
Positive tracking of symptoms may also boost the morale of patients as they become more optimistic and hopeful during the early phases of the treatment. It may also empower patients and help them better communicate effectively with their providers by providing a standardized metric and vocabulary for their symptoms. This may further assist in developing an enhanced therapeutic relationship. It has also observed that clients that receive feedback about their treatment may demonstrate faster improvements.
Improvements for mental health organizations
Regular usage of Measurement-Based Care by clinicians can provide evaluative data for the organization to measure its overall progress. This assessment can further guide in funding decisions or providing additional quality-of-care management which may ultimately improve client care through the addition of new programs.
Please note that the PHQ-9, GAD-7, and PCL-5 are not the intellectual property of Neurocove Behavioral Health, LLC. References for each measure are included in their respective pages below. Further, it is important to note that these measures, used alone, are insufficient to confirm or disconfirm any diagnosis and are not a replacement for formal psychological assessment.
- Kelli Scott, C.C.L. (2015) Using Measurement-Based Care to Enhance Any Treatment. Cogn. Behav. Pract. 22, 49
- Lambert, M. J., Whipple, J. L., Hawkins, E. J., Vermeersch, D. A., Nielsen, S. L., & Smart, D. W. (2003). Is it time for clinicians to routinely track patient outcome? A meta‐analysis. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 10(3), 288-301.
- Sapyta, J. et al. (2005) Feedback to Clinicians: Theory, Research, and Practice. J. Clin. Psychol. 61,
- Bickman, L. et al. (2011) Effects of Routine Feedback to Clinicians on Mental Health Outcomes of Youths: Results of a Randomized Trial. Psychiatr. Serv. 62,
- Bickman, L. (2008) A Measurement Feedback System (MFS) Is Necessary to Improve Mental Health Outcomes. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry 47,