What’s ‘Effective’ In Treating Serious Mental Illness: Provider Perspectives

Name of Award

GHR Innovative Scholarship

Date Awarded

Fall 10-2-2017


Philosophy, Psychology

Project Description

Dr. Susan Hawthorne, Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Dr. Anne Williams-Wengerd, Assistant Professor of Psychology, were awarded $15,000 to conduct an interdisciplinary qualitative research project to examine how mental health professionals understand treatment “effectiveness” in the context of serious mental illness (SMI). In psychiatric research, effectiveness is typically determined by a short-term reduction in symptoms; in the social work literature, it is often measured according to life goals meaningful to participants; and in psychological research, symptom reduction, decreased distress, or an increase in positive behaviors may be used. Such disparate goals lead to practical problems in interdisciplinary treatment. They hamper improvement of the complex U.S. mental health system, which exhibits systemic problems such as lack of access and high morbidity. To address issues, mental health providers need to agree on priorities and measures of success; disagreements hampers efforts to integrate care, improve care, focus research, and allocate funding to improve access. Presently, there are significant systemic barriers to integrating primary and mental health care. The goal of the project is to contribute to integrating primary care and mental health care, to improve care for people with SMI.

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