Value-Based Mental Health Services for Youth and Families: The Role of Patient-Reported Outcome Measures in Youth Mental Health Services


  • Megan Mungunzul Amarbayan
  • Travis Carpenter
  • Michele Hebert
  • Maria Santana
  • Jennifer Zwicker University of Calgary



patient-reported outcome measures, value-based healthy system, youth mental health


In Alberta, the responsibility for youth mental-health is shared among three separate government ministries, compounding the challenge of determining the value of services delivered, especially from the youth’s own perspective. As a result, Alberta’s ability to measure service quality at the systems level is limited. Yet, given the short-term and long-term effects of poor mental health on youth, families, and society, there are clinical, moral, and economic imperatives for ensuring that all services provided are of the highest value possible. 

Currently, Alberta is limited to estimating value mainly through quantitative measures focused on the cost of service delivery. However, value-based health-care services are measured as quality or outcomes for persons receiving health services in relation to the costs of delivering those services. One approach is to measure outcomes of youth receiving mental-health services from their own perspective to achieve value-based measurement of youth mental-health services. 

Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are questionnaires filled out by the persons receiving mental-health services themselves, and assess their self-reported health and well-being. PROMs have been shown to be important in evaluating the value of health-care services both at the individual and systems level. 

At the individual level, PROMs allow patients and health-care providers to track progress over time. At the systems level, PROMs data can be compiled to evaluate trends between different sites or different health-care services or treatments over time, to help improve quality. Policy-makers can use these comparisons to help pinpoint which services offer the most value. 

Given resource constraints, implementing PROMs province-wide in Alberta can improve the value of youth mental-health services at a time when they have become a matter of great urgency. Improving the quality and outcomes for youth and their families in the short term will deliver positive socioeconomic impacts in the future.