Implementing integrated treatment for co-existing substance use and severe mental health problems in assertive outreach teams: training issues

Hermine L Graham
Drug and Alcohol Review 2004, 23 (4): 463-70
This study sought to evaluate systematically training and implementation of a specific integrated treatment approach for co-occurring problem substance use and mental health within existing assertive outreach (AO) teams. The AO team was treated as a whole unit rather than as individual clinicians. They were provided with training and supervision to deliver a cognitive--behavioural integrated treatment approach. In a quasi-experimental time-lag design three teams were trained immediately and two others after an 18-month delay. There was evidence that teams acquired confidence and skills relevant to working with combined problems and that these gains were maintained over time. These results were replicated in the two teams trained after the delay. This study suggests that training mental health staff to use an integrated treatment approach is well received and produces lasting changes in confidence and skills. However, there are a number of issues related to staff training, shifting attitudes and implementation of integrated approaches into routine mental health practice. These issues are considered and suggestions made for staff training.

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