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

How mental health clinicians want to evaluate the care they give: a Western Australian study

Sophie Davison A B E , Yvonne Hauck A C , Philippa Martyr A B and Daniel Rock A B D

A Clinical Applications Unit, North Metropolitan Area Health Service (Mental Health), Gascoyne House, John XXIII Ave, Mt Claremont, WA 6010, Australia. Email: yvonne.hauck@health.wa.gov.au, Philippa.Martyr@health.wa.gov.au, daniel.rock@health.wa.gov.au

B School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

C Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI), Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.

D School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email sophie.davison@health.wa.gov.au

Australian Health Review 37(3) 375-380 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH12171
Submitted: 11 April 2012  Accepted: 21 November 2012   Published: 22 April 2013

Abstract

Objectives. To explore how Western Australian mental health clinicians want to evaluate their care.

Methods. Using a participatory action research framework, 10 senior psychiatrists and 11 clinical nurse specialists working in an inpatient mental health setting participated in individual interviews, focus groups and meetings. All interviews were de-identified during transcription and transcripts and field notes were analysed for common themes.

Results. Participants identified what they wanted to measure, how they wanted to measure it and how these changes could be implemented. Clinicians stressed the importance of measuring context (physical, clinical and service) and process as well as outcome, and of evaluating care at an individual and service level with consumer involvement.

What is known about the topic? Completion rates of mandatory national outcome measures in mental health in Australia are variable and clinicians have mixed views as to their value. Several barriers have been identified as to their use including clinical, resource and ownership issues.

What does this paper add? Some studies have identified areas of good practice and elicited practical suggestions for improvement but few have asked clinicians how they actually want to evaluate the care they provide. This study explored how mental health clinicians wanted to evaluate their care, using a participatory action research framework that encouraged participants to pinpoint problems and issues, account for their social context and develop actions to address them.

What are the implications for practitioners? Clinicians were enthusiastic for high quality care and evaluation, but pessimistic about their ability to introduce sustainable change. Establishing and supporting active and responsible leadership at service level may solve this, as may encouraging local standard setting and benchmarking in collaboration with consumers and carers.

Additional keywords: care-planning, outcome, quality.


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