Coordinated Specialty Care Discharge, Transition, and Step-Down Policies, Practices, and Concerns: Staff and Client Perspectives

Psychiatr Serv. 2020 May 1;71(5):487-497. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2020 Mar 19.


Objective: In recent years, optimizing the process of transition and discharge from coordinated specialty care (CSC), a program that provides early intervention in psychosis, has emerged as an important focus area for program administrators, clinicians, and policy makers. To explore existing CSC policies and practices and to understand frontline provider and client views on discharge, the authors conducted a comprehensive analysis of staff and client interview data from the Mental Health Block Grant 10% Set-Aside Study.

Methods: Data from 66 interviews with groups of CSC providers and administrators representing 36 sites and 22 states were analyzed, as well as data from interviews with 82 CSC clients at 34 sites. Transcripts were coded by using systematic content analyses.

Results: Analyses of data from providers and administrators showed the heterogeneity of CSC program practices and strategies regarding discharge and highlighted a range of concerns related to postdischarge service accessibility and quality. Analysis of data from client interviews reflected the heterogeneity of transition challenges that clients confront. A significant number of participants reported concerns about their readiness for discharge.

Conclusions: CSC discharge policies and practices vary across CSC programs and states. Frequent clinician and client concerns about optimal program length, transition, and postdischarge services highlight the importance of sustained policy and research efforts to develop evidence-informed practice guidelines and possible modifications to the time-limited CSC model that currently dominates the field.

Keywords: Coordinated specialty care; Discharge planning; Early intervention in psychosis; First-episode psychosis; Psychoses; Schizophrenia; Young adults with CMI.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aftercare*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Program Development
  • Psychotic Disorders / therapy*
  • Qualitative Research
  • United States
  • Young Adult