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Implementing Practice Guidelines: Lessons From Public Mental Health Settings

Joseph J. Parks, M.D.

Published: April 16, 2007

Article Abstract

There is evidence that state-of-the-art psychiatric treatments are not being translated into community settings, resulting in the de facto denial of up-to-date psychiatric care for many Americans with mental illness. Although multiple models of evidence-based care exist, little is known about how to disseminate information regarding these models to clinicians in real-world practice. Suggested solutions have included the use of published practice guidelines, such as the American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines and the Expert Consensus Guidelines, or algorithm-based programs, such as the Texas Medication Algorithm Project. Unfortunately, the real-world utility of practice guidelines tends to be limited, because their implementation depends entirely on practitioner self-motivation. Similarly, the use of algorithm-based programs may be limited by their pervasive high specificity, practitioner resistance, and various patient misperceptions. Another solution is the implementation of evidence-based practices (EBPs), such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) EBPs. However, states’ use of the SAMHSA EBPs has been hampered by misalignment of the funding structure, lack of information regarding EBPs, high costs to train and supervise staff, staff turnover, and a lack of resources. As a result, federal and clinical/professional agencies have called for a change in the nation’s mental health care delivery system, supplying persuasive arguments for the economic and clinical superiority of integrated care models. One such model, the Missouri Medical Risk Management (MRM) Program for Medicaid Recipients with Schizophrenia, currently assists patients identified as being at high risk for adverse medical and behavioral outcomes. Preliminary results from the Missouri MRM Program are described.

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