Effectiveness of embedding a specialist preventive care clinician in a community mental health service in increasing preventive care provision: A randomised controlled trial

Caitlin M.C. Fehily, Kate M. Bartlem, John H. Wiggers, Paula M. Wye, Richard V. Clancy, David J. Castle, Andrew Wilson, Chris E. Rissel, Sonia Wutzke, Rebecca K. Hodder, Kim Colyvas, Fionna Murphy, Jenny A. Bowman

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Objective: Clinical practice guidelines recommend that community mental health services provide preventive care for clients’ chronic disease risk behaviours; however, such care is often not routinely provided. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of offering clients an additional consultation with a specialist clinician embedded within a community mental health service, in increasing client-reported receipt of, and satisfaction with, preventive care. Method: A randomised controlled trial was undertaken in one Australian community mental health service. Participants (N = 811) were randomised to receive usual care (preventive care in routine consultations; n = 405) or usual care plus the offer of an additional consultation with a specialist preventive care clinician (n = 406). Blinded interviewers assessed at baseline and 1-month follow-up the client-reported receipt of preventive care (assessment, advice and referral) for four key risk behaviours individually (smoking, poor nutrition, alcohol overconsumption and physical inactivity) and all applicable risks combined, acceptance of referrals and satisfaction with preventive care received. Results: Analyses indicated significantly greater increases in 12 of the 18 preventive care delivery outcomes in the intervention compared to the usual care condition from baseline to follow-up, including assessment for all risks combined (risk ratio = 4.00; 95% confidence interval = [1.57, 10.22]), advice for all applicable risks combined (risk ratio = 2.40; 95% confidence interval = [1.89, 6.47]) and offer of referral to applicable telephone services combined (risk ratio = 20.13; 95% confidence interval = [2.56, 158.04]). For each component of care, there was a significant intervention effect for at least one of the individual risk behaviours. Participants reported high levels of satisfaction with preventive care received, ranging from 77% (assessment) to 87% (referral), with no significant differences between conditions. Conclusion: The intervention had a significant effect on the provision of the majority of recommended elements of preventive care. Further research is needed to maximise its impact, including identifying strategies to increase client uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-632
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • chronic disease risk behaviours
  • Mental health
  • mental health services
  • physical health
  • preventive care


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