Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Review and analysis of the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program

Brenda Happell A B and Chris Platania-Phung A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A SYNERGY: Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre, (University of Canberra and ACT Health) Canberra Hospital, PO Box 11, Yamba Drive, Woden, ACT 2606, Australia. Email: Chris.Platania-Phung@canberra.edu.au

B Corresponding author. Email: Brenda.Happell@canberra.edu.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH17017
Submitted: 5 February 2017  Accepted: 11 July 2017   Published online: 4 September 2017

Abstract

Objective The aim of the present study was to review and synthesise research on the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) to ascertain the benefits and limitations of this initiative for people with mental illness, general practitioners, mental health nurses and the wider community.

Methods An electronic and manual search was made of the research literature for MHNIP in May 2017. Features of studies, including cohorts and findings, were tabulated and cross-study patterns in program processes and outcomes were closely compared.

Results Seventeen reports of primary research data have been released. Triangulation of data from different cohorts, regions and design show that the program has been successful on the primary objectives of increased access to primary mental health care, and has received positive feedback from all major stakeholders. Although the program has been broadly beneficial to consumer health, there are inequities in access for people with mental illness.

Conclusions The MHNIP greatly benefits the health of people with mental illness. Larger and more representative sampling of consumers is needed, as well as intensive case studies to provide a more comprehensive and effective understanding of the benefits and limitations of the program as it evolves with the establishment of primary health networks.

What is known about the topic? The MHNIP is designed to increase access to mental health care in primary care settings such as general practice clinics. Studies have reported favourable views about the program. However, research is limited and further investigation is required to demonstrate the strengths and limitations of the program.

What does this paper add? All studies reviewed reported that the MHNIP had positive implications for people with severe and persistent mental illness. Qualitative research has been most prevalent for mental health nurse views and research on Health of the Nation Outcome Scale scores for recipients of the program. There is more research on system dimensions than on person-centred care. Mental health consumers, carers and families have been neglected in the establishment, engagement and evaluation of the MHNIP.

What are the implications for practitioners? A more systematic, national-level research program into the MHNIP is required that is centred more on the experiences of people with mental illness.

Additional keywords: health equity, literature review, mental illness, nursing, primary care settings.


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