Bridging Community Intervention and Mental Health Services Research

Published in: American Journal of Psychiatry, v. 161, no. 6, June 2004, p. 955-963

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2004

by Kenneth B. Wells, Jeanne Miranda, Martha L. Bruce, Margarita Alegria, Nina Wallerstein

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OBJECTIVE: This article explores the potential of community intervention perspectives for increasing the relevance, reach, and public health impact of mental health services research. METHOD: The authors reviewed community intervention strategies, including public health and community development and empowerment interventions, and contrast community intervention with practice-based quality improvement and policy research. RESULTS: A model was proposed to integrate health services and community intervention research, building on the evidence-based strength of quality improvement and participatory methods of community intervention to produce complementary functions, such as linking community-based case finding and referral with practice-based quality improvement, enhanced by community-based social support for treatment adherence. CONCLUSIONS: The community intervention approach is a major paradigm for affecting public health or addressing health disparities. Despite challenges in implementation and evaluation, it represents a promising approach for extending the reach of mental health services interventions into diverse communities.

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