Long-term outcomes of a randomized trial of integrated skills training and preventive healthcare for older adults with serious mental illness

Stephen J Bartels, Sarah I Pratt, Kim T Mueser, Brent P Forester, Rosemarie Wolfe, Corinne Cather, Haiyi Xie, Gregory J McHugo, Bruce Bird, Kelly A Aschbrenner, John A Naslund, James Feldman
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2014, 22 (11): 1251-61

OBJECTIVE: This report describes 1-, 2-, and 3-year outcomes of a combined psychosocial skills training and preventive healthcare intervention (Helping Older People Experience Success [HOPES]) for older persons with serious mental illness.

METHODS: A randomized controlled trial compared HOPES with treatment as usual (TAU) for 183 older adults (age ≥ 50 years [mean age: 60.2]) with serious mental illness (28% schizophrenia, 28% schizoaffective disorder, 20% bipolar disorder, 24% major depression) from two community mental health centers in Boston, Massachusetts, and one in Nashua, New Hampshire. HOPES comprised 12 months of weekly skills training classes, twice-monthly community practice trips, and monthly nurse preventive healthcare visits, followed by a 1-year maintenance phase of monthly sessions. Blinded evaluations of functioning, symptoms, and service use were conducted at baseline and at a 1-year (end of the intensive phase), 2-year (end of the maintenance phase), and 3-year (12 months after the intervention) follow-up.

RESULTS: HOPES compared with TAU was associated with improved community living skills and functioning, greater self-efficacy, lower overall psychiatric and negative symptoms, greater acquisition of preventive healthcare (more frequent eye exams, visual acuity, hearing tests, mammograms, and Pap smears), and nearly twice the rate of completed advance directives. No differences were found for medical severity, number of medical conditions, subjective health status, or acute service use at the 3-year follow-up.

CONCLUSION: Skills training and nurse facilitated preventive healthcare for older adults with serious mental illness was associated with sustained long-term improvement in functioning, symptoms, self-efficacy, preventive healthcare screening, and advance care planning.

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