Establishing community mental health clinics increased the number of patients receiving care in rural Western Uganda
AffiliationBwindi Community Hospital; University of Exeter; University of Chester
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AbstractBackground: Mental, neurological, and substance-use disorders cause medium to long term disability in all countries. They are amenable to treatment but often treatment is only available in hospitals, as few staff feel competent to give treatment. The WHO developed the “Mental Health GAP” (mhGAP) course to train non-specialist clinical staff in basic diagnosis and treatment. At Bwindi Community Hospital, in south-west Uganda, mental health care was initially only provided at the hospital. It was extended outside the hospital in two implementation phases, initially by establishing 17 clinics in the community, run by qualified mental health staff from the hospital. In the second implementation phase staff in 12 health centers were trained using mhGAP and ran their own clinics under supervision. Methods: Using routine data the defined data variables for the individuals attending the clinics was extracted. Results: A total of 2,617 people attended a mental health care clinic in the study period between January 2016 and March 2020. Of these 1,051 people attended more than once. The number of patients attending clinics increased from 288 during the baseline to 693 in the first implementation phase then to 839 patients in the second implementation phase. After mhGAP training, about 30% of patients were seen locally by mhGAP trained healthcare personnel. The average number of mental health patients seen each month increased from 12 to 65 over the time of the study. The number of patients living >20 km from the hospital increased from 69 in the baseline to 693 in the second implementation phase. The proportion of patients seen at the hospital clinic dropped from 100% to 27%. Conclusions: Providing mental health care in the community at a distance from the hospital substantially increased the number of people accessing mental health care. Training health center-based staff in mhGAP contributed to this. Not all patients could appropriately be managed by non-specialist clinical staff, who only had the five-day training in mhGAP. Supplies of basic medicines were not always adequate, which probably contributed to patients being lost to follow-up. About 50% of patients only attend the clinic once. Further work is required to understand the reasons.
CitationKuule, Y., Dobson, A. E., Mutahunga, B., Stewart, A. G., & Wilkinson, E. (2023). Establishing community mental health clinics increased the number of patients receiving care in rural Western Uganda. Frontiers in Health Services, 3, article-number 1133770. https://doi.org/10.3389/frhs.2023.1133770
JournalFrontiers in Health Services
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