Background: Service users and providers have stated that delivering continuity of care to people with severe mental illness should be a service priority. We reviewed literature on continuity of care for people with severe mental illness (SMI) in order to identify factors that promote and impede this process.
Method: A systematic search of electronic databases, sources of grey literature and contact with experts in the field. Two reviewers independently rated all papers for possible inclusion. Data extracted from papers formed the basis of a narrative review.
Results: We identified 435 papers on continuity of care, of which 60 addressed the study aims. Most did not define continuity of care. Available evidence suggests that assertive community treatment, case management, community mental health teams and crisis intervention reduce the likelihood of patients dropping out of contact with services.
Conclusions: Evidence on which to base services that enhance continuity of care for people with SMI is limited because previous research has often failed to define continuity of care or consider the patient's perspective.