Exploring the impact of common assessment instrumentation on communication and collaboration in inpatient and community-based mental health settings: a focus group study

TitleExploring the impact of common assessment instrumentation on communication and collaboration in inpatient and community-based mental health settings: a focus group study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMartin L., Hirdes J.P
JournalBmc Health Services Research
Volume14
Date PublishedOct 3
ISBN Number1472-6963
Accession NumberWOS:000343263700001
KeywordsAssessment, care, collaboration, Communication, integrated care, InterRAI, interrai community mental health, mental health, rai mental health
Abstract

Background: Recognition that integrated services can lead to more efficient and effective care has made the principle of integration a priority for health systems worldwide for the last decade. However, actually bringing fully integrated services to life has eluded most health care organizations. Mental health has followed the rule, rather than the exception, when it comes integrating services. The lack of effective mechanisms to evaluate the needs of persons across mental health care services has been an important barrier to communication between professionals involved in care. This study sought to understand communication among inpatient and community-based mental health staff during transfers of care, before and after implementation of compatible assessment instrumentation.Methods: Two focus groups were held with staff from inpatient (n = 10) and community (n = 10) settings in an urban, specialized psychiatric hospital in Ontario (Canada) - prior to and one year after implementation of compatible instrumentation in the community program. Transcripts were coded and aggregated into themes.Results: Very different views of current communication patterns during transfers of care emerged. Inpatient mental health staff described a predictable, well-known process, whereas community-based staff emphasized unpredictability. Staff also discussed issues related to trust and the circle of care. All agreed that compatible assessments in inpatient and community mental health settings would facilitate communication through use of a common assessment language. However, no change in communication patterns was reported one year post implementation of compatible instrumentation.Conclusions: Though all participants agreed on the potential for compatible instrumentation to improve communication during transfers of care, this cannot happen overnight. A number of issues related to trust, evidence-based practice, and organizational factors act as barriers to communication. In particular, staff noted the need for the results of comprehensive mental health assessments to be transformed into meaningful, user-friendly clinical summaries to facilitate uptake of assessment information, and consequently use of a common assessment language across mental health settings.

DOI10.1186/1472-6963-14-457
Short TitleBMC health services research
Alternate JournalBmc Health Serv Res