Catherine Spooner

Catherine is a Senior Research Fellow at the UNSW Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity in Sydney. She is leading a program of inclusive research at the Centre that aims to identify and trial interventions that can improve the physical health of people with severe mental illness.



Title: Improving access to quality shared care for people with severe mental illness

Author(s): Catherine Spooner, Peri O’Shea*, Karen R Fisher; Ben Harris-Roxas; Jane Taggart; Patrick Bolton; Mark Harris

Peri O’Shea is a lived experience researcher

Topics: improving access, comprehensive care, care coordination, translating research into practice

Category: Integrated care

Introduction: People with severe mental illness (PWSMI) have a life expectancy that is 13 to 30 years shorter than the general population. This mortality gap has been increasing. The majority of deaths are due to preventable conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There is a need to improve the accessibility and quality of preventive health care for PWSMI to improve their physical health outcomes. Aims: 1. To identify what helps PWSMI establish and maintain a positive relationship with their GP to prevent, detect and manage long-term physical conditions. 2. Trial an intervention based upon the findings.

Method: Semi-structured qualitative interviews and focus group with PWSMI; knowledge exchange workshop with PWSMI, service providers and other stakeholders. A lived experience researcher (PO) was involved in planning and conducting the research.

Results: Participants and stakeholders identified a need for navigation support, GP capacity building to be more accommodating and appropriate for patients with SMI, and improved shared care between the GP and mental health service, with the GP coordinating comprehensive care.

Discussion: Multiple interventions are needed to improve access to good shared health care for PWSMI. We have partnered with two local health districts to obtain funding to trial new web-based systems to facilitate shared care, coordinated by the GP. Working with consumers and health service partners has been essential for us to progress this agenda.

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