What drives changes in institutionalised mental health care? A qualitative study of the perspectives of professional experts.
Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol
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BACKGROUND: Since 1990, the provision of mental healthcare has changed substantially across Western Europe. There are fewer psychiatric hospital beds and more places in forensic psychiatric hospitals and residential facilities. However, little research has investigated the drivers behind these changes. This study explored qualitatively the perspectives of mental health professional experts on what has driven the changes in Western Europe. METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted with twenty-four mental health experts in England, Germany and Italy, who as professionals had personal experiences of the changes in their country. Interviewees were asked about drivers of changes in institutionalised mental health care from 1990 to 2010. The accounts were subjected to a thematic analysis. RESULTS: Four broad themes were revealed: the overall philosophy of de-institutionalisation, with the aim to overcome old-fashioned asylum style care; finances, with a pressure to limit expenditure and an interest of provider organisations to increase income; limitations of community mental health care in which most severely ill patients may be neglected; and emphasis on risk containment so that patients posing a risk may be cared for in institutions. Whilst all themes were mentioned in all three countries, there were also differences in emphasis and detail. CONCLUSIONS: Distinct factors appear to have influenced changes in mental health care. Their precise influence may vary from country to country, and they have to be considered in the context of each country. The drivers may be influenced by professional groups to some extent, but also depend on the overall interest and attitudes in the society at large.
AuthorsChow, WS; Ajaz, A; Priebe, S
- Centre for Psychiatry