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Quantifying the contribution of VA service-connected disability pensions to the "check effect".

Luchins DJ, McCarthy JF, Mach JJ, Jordan N. Quantifying the contribution of VA service-connected disability pensions to the "check effect". Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2011 May 1; 62(5):551-3.

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OBJECTIVE: The study attempted to quantify the effect of receiving a disability pension check at the beginning of the month on the timing of substance-related hospitalizations in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. METHODS: All substance-related hospitalizations during fiscal year 2005 were identified in the VA National Psychosis Registry (13,402 hospitalizations among 8,813 individuals) and in a random sample of VA patients without serious mental illness (689 hospitalizations among 508 individuals). Multivariable logistic regression examined the impact of pension check receipt on timing of hospitalizations while controlling for other predictors of substance-related hospitalizations. RESULTS: Receipt of a service-connected pension was associated with an increased risk of admission during the first two weeks of the month (odds ratio = 1.08; 95% confidence interval = 1.01-1.16). CONCLUSIONS: Staggering the disbursement of VA disability pensions (sending half the checks at the beginning and half in the middle of the month) might modestly reduce peak demand for substance-related inpatient services.

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