"You don't want anyone who hasn't been through anything telling you what to do, because how do they know?": Qualitative analysis of case managers in a hospital-based violence intervention program

PLoS One. 2020 Jun 24;15(6):e0234608. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234608. eCollection 2020.


Statement of purpose: Intentional violent injury is a leading cause of disability and death among young adults in the United States. Hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs), which strive to prevent re-injury through intensive case management, have emerged as a successful and cost-effective strategy to address this issue. Despite the importance of strong therapeutic relationships between clients and their case managers, specific case manager behaviors and attributes that drive the formation of these relationships have not been elucidated.

Methods: A qualitative analysis with a modified grounded theory approach was conducted to gain insight into what clients perceive to be crucial to the formation of a strong client-case manager relationship. Twenty-four semi-structured interviews were conducted with prior clients of our hospital's HVIP. The interviews were analyzed using constant comparison method for recurrent themes.

Results: Several key themes emerged from the interviews. Clients emphasized that their case managers must: 1) understand and relate to their sociocultural contexts, 2) navigate the initial in-hospital meeting to successfully create connection, 3) exhibit true compassion and care, 4) serve as role models, 5) act as portals of opportunity, and 6) engender mutual respect and pride.

Conclusions: This study identifies key behaviors of case managers that facilitate the formation of strong therapeutic relationships at the different stages of client recovery. This study's findings emphasize the importance of case managers being culturally aligned with and embedded in their clients' communities. This work can provide a roadmap for case managers to form optimally effective relationships with clients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Case Managers / psychology
  • Case Managers / standards*
  • Female
  • Grounded Theory
  • Hospitals*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.