Improvement of care for the physical health of patients with severe mental illness: a qualitative study assessing the view of patients and families
1 Pharmacotherapy and Pharmaceutical Care, University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 1, Groningen 9713 AV, The Netherlands
2 GGZ WNB, Mental health hospital, Postbus 371, Bergen op Zoom 4600 AJ, the Netherlands
3 Department of General Practice, University Medical Center Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 1, Groningen 9713 AV, The Netherlands
4 Delta chair on pharmacotherapy in psychiatric patients, Delta, Mental Health Hospital, Postbus 800, Poortugaal 3170 DZ, The Netherlands
BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:426 doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-426Published: 21 October 2013
Patients with severe mental illness (SMI) experience more physical comorbidity than the general population. Multiple factors, including inadequate seeking of healthcare and health care related factors such as lack of collaboration, underlie this undesirable situation. To improve this situation, the logistics of physical health care for patients with SMI need to be changed. We asked both patients and their families about their views on the current organization of care, and how this care could be improved.
Group and individual interviews were conducted with patients and family of patients to explore their needs and preferences concerning the care for the physical health of patients with SMI, and to explore the shortcomings they had experienced. Using thematic analysis, responses were firstly divided into common topics, after which these topics were grouped into themes.
Three major themes for the improvement of the physical care of patients with SMI were found. Firstly, the reduced ability of patients with SMI to survey their own physical health interests requires health care that is tailored to these needs. Secondly, the lack of collaboration amongst mental health care professionals and general practitioners (GPs) hinders optimal care. Thirdly, concerns were expressed regarding the implementation of monitoring and supporting a healthy lifestyle. Patients with SMI welcome this implementation, but the logistics of providing this care can be improved.
An optimal approach for caring for the physical health of patients with SMI requires a professional approach, which is different to the routine care provided to the general public. This approach can and should be accomplished within the usual organizational structure. However, this requires tailoring of the health care to the needs of patients with SMI, as well as structural collaboration between mental health care professionals and GPs.