Improving the quality of mental health care in Multiple Sclerosis

Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115 USA.
Journal of the neurological sciences (Impact Factor: 2.26). 08/2013; 335(1-2). DOI: 10.1016/j.jns.2013.08.021
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT An exploratory study of mental health treatment of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to identify hypotheses for future testing.
We mailed surveys to 8750 MS patients in four geographically distributed MS Centers; 3384 completed the survey. We used a modified version of the Experience of Care and Health Outcome Survey™ to assess mental health problems and experiences with mental health treatment and the Kessler 6 scale to identify serious mental illness.
In the year before the survey, sixty percent of patients reported mental health problems. Less than one half of these individuals received mental health treatment, either from their MS care provider or a mental health professional in the MS Center or the community. Patients generally had good mental health treatment experiences, and felt helped by their treatment, but gave less positive reports about how long it took to be seen, receiving information about treatment options and managing their condition, and phone contact. Care experiences were more positive among those who received care from mental health professionals (compared to medical care providers) and among those receiving mental health treatment in the MS Center (compared to in the community).
The unmet need for mental health treatment for people with MS is high. Options for MS care providers to help meet this need include hiring mental health professionals to provide on-site treatment; providing mental health treatment themselves; and referring patients to mental health professionals in the community and collaborating in integrated care. This study provided preliminary data for two related hypotheses that warrant further testing: MS patients will receive better mental health care if their mental health treatment is co-located with their MS care and if it is provided by mental health professionals.

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