BACKGROUND The aim of this study was to provide information on patients current service use which could inform future decisions on service planning and resource allocation.
METHOD Individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, who had received in-patient care in the previous five years, were identified from the Lothian Case Register. Information was obtained from 193 subjects. Patients' service use over a six-month period was examined. The costs incurred in service provision were determined.
RESULTS Patients differed markedly in their use of services. This was not found to be related to their mental state. Average care costs were high. In-patient care accounted for most of the overall expenditure.
CONCLUSIONS There is considerable variation in the services used by patients with schizophrenia and in the costs incurred in service provision. When planning services it is therefore important that detailed information on the patient population is available if resources are to be allocated cost-effectively.