Personal Health Improvement Program Helps Heavy Medical Users Improve Their Health

From 1999 to 2000, researchers at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a Boston-based managed care organization, conducted a study to determine whether a system of identifying and counseling patients whose physical symptoms had a psychological basis could improve their health and satisfaction and reduce health care costs.

The counseling intervention, called the Personal Health Improvement Program, taught patients skills for managing relationships in stressful situations. The study compared a group of patients who received the intervention to a group who received usual care.

Key Findings

  • Six months after the intervention, patients in the intervention group reported a greater improvement in physical symptoms, and less depression and anxiety than did patients in the comparison group.