Objective: Client-centered care is a major aim of health care. In mental health, new client-centered treatment approaches that emphasize recovery, rehabilitation, and empowerment can improve outcomes for people with severe and persistent mental illness. However, these approaches are not widely used, in part because many clinicians lack the necessary competencies. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative, consumer-led intervention, Staff Supporting Skills for Self-Help, which was designed to improve provider quality, empower mental health consumers, and promote mutual support.
Methods: The study was conducted at five large community mental health provider organizations in two western states. One organization in each state received the intervention. The intervention included education, clinician-client dialogues, ongoing technical assistance, and support of self-help. It focused on client-centered care, rehabilitation, and recovery. A one-year controlled trial evaluated the effect of the intervention on clinicians' competencies, care processes, and the formation of mutual support groups. Outcomes were assessed by using competency assessment survey instruments and semistructured interviews with clinicians and managers.
Results: A total of 269 clinicians participated in the study: 151 in the intervention group and 118 in the control group. Compared with clinicians at the control organizations, clinicians at intervention organizations showed significantly greater improvement in education about care, rehabilitation methods, natural supports, holistic approaches, teamwork, overall competency, and recovery orientation.
Conclusions: A feasible, consumer-led intervention improves provider competencies in domains that are necessary for the provision of high-quality care.