Office of Mental Health

Patient Characteristics Survey (PCS)


What is the PCS?
The Patient Characteristics Survey (PCS) is conducted every two years, and collects demographic, clinical, and service-related information for each person who receives a public mental health service during a specified one-week period. The PCS receives data from approximately 5,000 mental health programs serving 175,000 people during the survey week. All programs licensed or funded by the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) are required to complete the survey. The PCS is the only OMH data source that describes all the public mental health programs in New York State.

What PCS Data are available on this Web Site?
Results from the PCS are summarized into reports at the state, region, county, and facility levels. Facility level reports are sent to each respective facility director, while the other reports are posted publicly on the OMH Web site.

The reports posted on this Web page include the dynamic Portal Summary Reports, Planning Reports and Annualized Reports. The dynamic Summary Reports allow users to sort data by geographic region of provider and other demographic variables. The Summary Reports describe clients served by demographic variables, while the PCS Planning Reports present penetration rates and national outcome measures. For the Annualized Reports, OMH employs an annualizing algorithm developed by the Nathan Kline Institute to estimate the number served annually from the number served during the survey week.

PCS data have been published on the OMH Web Site since 1999. This page also links to archived PCS summary reports for survey years 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007, which are presented in an abbreviated, fixed format.

How are PCS Data Used?
PCS information is used for planning and program evaluation by OMH and local governmental units. Survey results are also used to describe the state public mental health system to state and federal funding agencies and legislative bodies.

Who is Reported on the PCS?
Program TypeIndividuals reported
  • Residential-type programs
  • Persons "in residence" during the survey week.
  • Nonresidential programs
  • Persons receiving client or collateral services during the survey week. Where collateral services are involved, information reported will pertain to the client, not the collateral. For example, when a clinician meets with a parent ("collateral") of a child client during the survey week rather than directly with the child, the clinician completes a survey that reports information about the child.

What is not Reported on the PCS?
  • Clients screened during the survey week, but not subsequently admitted to a program
  • Transportation programs
  • Single Point of Access (SPOA) programs
  • Veteran's Administration Hospitals
  • Private-practice clinicians
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