Exploring Primary Care Activities in ACT Teams
Erik R. Vanderlip, Nancy A. Williams, Jess G. Fiedorowicz, Wayne Katon
Community Mental Health Journal
May 2014, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 466-473
People with serious mental illness often receive inadequate primary and preventive care services. Federal healthcare reform endorses team-based care that provides high quality primary and preventive care to at risk populations. Assertive community treatment (ACT) teams offer a proven, standardized treatment approach effective in improving mental health outcomes for the seriously mentally ill. Much is known about the effectiveness of ACT teams in improving mental health outcomes, but the degree to which medical care needs are addressed is not established. The purpose of this study was to explore the extent to which ACT teams address the physical health of the population they serve. ACT team leaders were invited to complete an anonymous, web-based survey to explore attitudes and activities involving the primary care needs of their clients. Information was collected regarding the use of health screening tools, physical health assessments, provision of medical care and collaboration with primary care systems. Data was analyzed from 127 team leaders across the country, of which 55 completed the entire survey. Nearly every ACT team leader believed ACT teams have a role in identifying and managing the medical co-morbidities of their clientele. ACT teams report participation in many primary care activities. ACT teams are providing a substantial amount of primary and preventive services to their population. The survey suggests standardization of physical health identification, management or referral processes within ACT teams may result in improved quality of medical care. ACT teams are in a unique position to improve physical health care by virtue of having medically trained staff and frequent, close contact with their clients.