Approach to treatment of mental illness and substance dependence in remote Indigenous communities: results of a mixed methods study
Nagel, Tricia, Robinson, Gary, Condon, John, and Trauer, Tom (2009) Approach to treatment of mental illness and substance dependence in remote Indigenous communities: results of a mixed methods study. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 17 (4). pp. 174-182.
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Objective: To develop and evaluate a culturally adapted brief intervention for Indigenous people with chronic mental illness.
Design: A mixed methods design in which an exploratory phase of qualitative research was followed by a nested randomised controlled trial.
Setting: Psycho-education resources and a brief intervention, motivational care planning (MCP), were developed and tested in collaboration with aboriginal mental health workers in three remote communities in northern Australia.
Participants: A total of 49 patients with mental illness and 37 carers were recruited to a randomised controlled trial that compared MCP (n = 24) with a clinical control condition (treatment as usual, n = 25).
Intervention: The early treatment group received MCP at baseline and the late treatment group received delayed treatment at six months.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was mental health problem severity as measured by the health of the nation outcome scales. Secondary measures of well-being (Kessler 10), life skills, self-management and substance dependence were chosen. Outcome assessments were performed at baseline, six-month, 12-month and 18-month follow up.
Results: Random effects regression analyses showed significant advantage for the treatment condition in terms of well-being with changes in health of the nation outcome scales (P < 0.001) and Kessler 10 (P = 0.001), which were sustained over time. There was also significant advantage for treatment for alcohol dependence (P = 0.05), with response also evident in cannabis dependence (P = 0.064) and with changes in substance dependence sustained over time.
Conclusions: These results suggest that MCP is an effective treatment for Indigenous people with mental illness and provide insight into the experience of mental illness in remote communities.
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