Quality of general medical care among patients with serious mental illness: does colocation of services matter?

Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Aug;62(8):922-8. doi: 10.1176/ps.62.8.pss6208_0922.


Objective: This study was conducted to determine whether patients with serious mental illness receiving care in Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health programs with colocated general medical clinics were more likely to receive adequate medical care than patients in programs without colocated clinics based on a nationally representative sample.

Methods: The study included all VA patients with diagnoses of serious mental illness in fiscal year (FY) 2006-2007 who were also part of the VA's External Peer Review Program (EPRP) FY 2007 random sample and who received care from VA facilities (N=107 facilities) with organizational data from the VA Mental Health Program Survey (N=7,514). EPRP included patient-level chart review quality indicators for common processes of care (foot and retinal examinations for diabetes complications; screens for colorectal health, breast cancer, and alcohol misuse; and tobacco counseling) and outcomes (hypertension, diabetes blood sugar, and lipid control).

Results: Ten out of 107 (10%) mental health programs had colocated medical clinics. After adjustment for organizational and patient-level factors, analyses showed that patients from colocated clinics compared with those without colocation were more likely to receive foot exams (OR=1.87, p<.05), colorectal cancer screenings (OR=1.54, p<.01), and alcohol misuse screenings (OR=2.92, p<.01). They were also more likely to have good blood pressure control (<140/90 mmHg; OR=1.32, p<.05) but less likely to have glycosylated hemoglobin <9% (OR=.69, p<.05).

Conclusions: Colocation of medical care was associated with better quality of care for four of nine indicators. Additional strategies, particularly those focused on improving diabetes control and other chronic medical outcomes, might be warranted for patients with serious mental illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetic Foot / prevention & control
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services
  • Psychotic Disorders / therapy
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs / standards