Teaching an interdisciplinary approach to the treatment of chronic mental illness: challenges and rewards

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Submitted by National Center... on Mar 14, 2014 - 11:14am CDT

OBJECTIVE: National policy makers and psychiatric educators have established the goals of teaching and promoting interdisciplinary care as high priorities. This article describes the implementation of an interprofessional seminar for which the dual aims were to provide a knowledge base for treating individuals with serious mental illness and to teach how to work collaboratively with other disciplines.

METHOD: A seminar, the "Treatment of chronic or recurrent mental illness: recovery, rehabilitation and interdisciplinary collaboration," was developed in an academic community mental health center. Pre- and postseminar surveys were administered in order to test the hypothesis that the seminar would have a positive impact on trainees' attitudes about working with the seriously mentally ill and within an interdisciplinary team. A combination of 5-point Likert scales and open-ended questions were used to gather the data. Paired samples t tests were conducted to test for significant differences between the pre- and postmeasures.

RESULTS: The seminar participants included 24 students from psychiatry, nursing, social work, and psychology with a wide range of experience. Complete pre- and postseminar data were obtained from 14 participants. Although participants valued the seminar experience, they reported that the actual interdisciplinary work with the seriously mentally ill was less gratifying than expected. They described several advantages and challenges of care-oriented collaboration and shared learning.

CONCLUSION: Bringing together a diverse group of graduate and postgraduate trainees to learn together and to learn about each other's disciplines appeared to be a successful venture, but the authors were not able to detect a positive impact on their actual work life during the course of the year. Further development of strategies to inspire professionals to engage in and promote interdisciplinary care of the seriously mentally ill is needed.

PubMed URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18467485

Steiner, Jeanne L
Ponce, Allison N
Styron, Thomas
Aklin, Edna E
Wexler, Bruce E
Journal Citation: 
Academic Psychiatry. 32(3):255-8, 2008 May-Jun.