• cost and cost analysis;
  • regression analysis;
  • econometric models;
  • mental health

Objective:  Many studies conducted in Europe have reported high variance of costs estimated at the individual level. The objectives of the present study were to estimate costs of patients and to evaluate the performance of various regression models.

Method:  All patients who in the period 1992–1995 had at least one contact with the psychiatric services in South Verona were included in the study and were followed for 1 year after the index contact (n = 1725). Four different groups, classified on the basis of their previous services utilization, were analysed.

Results:  First-ever patients and patients with a new episode of care after 3 years were less costly than patients with an ongoing episode of care and patients having a new episode, after an interval between 3 months and 3 years.

Conclusion:  The regression models allow us to predict cost for a patient with a given set of characteristics. Great care in the interpretation of the values of the individual coefficients should be taken in order to have a broader understanding of the expenditure dynamic.