NQF Endorses Behavioral Health Measures 

NOV 05, 2012

CONTACT: Erin Weireter

NQF Endorses Behavioral Health Measures

Washington, DC – the National Quality Forum (NQF) Board of Directors has endorsed 10 quality measures focused on behavioral health, addressing issues such as alcohol and tobacco abuse, antipsychotic medication adherence, and post care follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness.

Behavioral health refers to a state of mental or emotional being and choices and actions that affect wellness, as defined by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral health problems include substance abuse or misuse, alcohol and drug addiction, serious psychological distress, suicide, and mental and substance abuse disorders.

"Improving behavioral health services and outcomes, especially for individuals suffering from mental illness or substance abuse, is a national priority," said Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, senior vice president for performance measures at NQF. "These endorsed measures will be integral to this effort, giving providers new tools to ensure patients receive appropriate, compassionate, and high-quality care."

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 26 percent of the U.S. population suffers from mental illness and substance abuse. However, the burden of disease lies with six percent of the population who suffer from a serious mental illness. Many of these individuals – whose mental health status can dramatically impact how they engage with and respond to medical treatment – die 25 years earlier than the general population.1 

"Because many people are dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues, the health care community is working to offer more comprehensive support and improved care across the country," said Peter Briss, MD, MPH, medical director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and co-chair of the Behavioral Health Endorsement Steering Committee. "These measures – rigorously evaluated by a diverse panel of experts – will help to improve quality of care delivered to these people."

The measures include those that have been endorsed for at least three years and are now undergoing NQF endorsement maintenance. The ongoing evaluation and updating of endorsed measures ensures they are current, "best in class," address gaps in existing measures, are synchronistic with national priorities, and enhance NQF's behavioral health portfolio. In all, 22 measures were submitted for evaluation against NQF's endorsement criteria. Eleven measures were withdrawn from consideration or deferred; 10 measures – including six new submissions – were endorsed.

"These measures are an important step forward for the healthcare community," said Harold Pincus, MD, professor and vice chair, department of psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and Director of Quality and Outcomes Research at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and co-chair of the Behavioral Health Endorsement Steering Committee. "NQF has endorsed a relatively small number of behavioral health measures in the past; these additional measures will help fill measurement gaps and give us a real opportunity to generate information that will improve care for those in need."

NQF is a voluntary consensus standards-setting organization. Any party may request reconsideration of any of the 10 endorsed quality measures listed below by submitting an appeal no later than December 4 (to submit an appeal, go to the NQF Measure Database). For an appeal to be considered, the notification must include information clearly demonstrating that the appellant has interests directly and materially affected by the NQF-endorsed recommendations and that the NQF decision has had (or will have) an adverse effect on those interests.

Endorsed Measures

  • 0004: Initiation and Engagement of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence Treatment (NCQA)
  • 0027: Medical Assistance With Smoking and Tobacco Use Cessation (NCQA)
  • 0028: Preventive Care & Screening: Tobacco Use: Screening & Cessation Intervention (AMA-PCPI)
  • 1879: Adherence to Antipsychotic Medications for Individuals with Schizophrenia (CMS)
  • 1932: Diabetes screening for people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who are prescribed antipsychotic medications (SSD) (NCQA)
  • 1927: Cardiovascular health screening for people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who are prescribed antipsychotic medications (NCQA)
  • 1933: Cardiovascular health monitoring for people with cardiovascular disease and schizophrenia (SMC) (NCQA)
  • 1934: Diabetes monitoring for people with diabetes and schizophrenia (NCQA)
  • 1937: Follow-Up After Hospitalization for Schizophrenia (7- and 30-day) (NCQA)
  • 0576: Follow-Up After Hospitalization for Mental Illness (NCQA)

NQF operates under a three-part mission to improve the quality of American healthcare by:  

  • building consensus on national priorities and goals for performance improvement and working in partnership to achieve them;  
  • endorsing national consensus standards for measuring and publicly reporting on performance; and  
  • promoting the attainment of national goals through education and outreach programs. 

1Parks J, Radke A, Mazade NA, Measurement of Health Status for People with Serious Mental Illness. Alexandria, VA :National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors; 2008. Available at www.nasmhpd.org/docs/publications/MDCdocs/NASMHPD%20Medical%20Directors%20Health%20Indicators%20Report%2011-19-08.pdf. Last accessed October 2011.