Serious Mental Illness in Rural Primary Care Practice

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Serious Mental Illness (SMI) is a severe and complex psychiatric condition with significant medical comorbidity. Although many patients with SMI utilize substantial healthcare resources, their healthcare outcomes are far worse than those of persons without SMI, often leading to early death. There are numerous barriers preventing these patients from obtaining optimal healthcare. The current study focused on available research emphasizing appropriate healthcare for persons with SMI who live in rural communities. The goals of the current study were to 1) to establish base rates of SMI presenting in rural primary care practices, 2) to identify and describe interventions to help individuals with SMI seek and adhere to appropriate treatment from their PCPs in rural areas, and 3) to investigate any existing interventions designed to educate or train primary care providers who serve patients with SMI, and to evaluate the effectiveness of such practices. This study involved a systematic review of the literature following the PRISMA guidelines. Results suggest that base rates of SMI in rural primary care settings have not been reported, and that there are few interventions available that are effective in increasing access to resources, adherence to treatment, and education for healthcare professionals working with patients with SMI. These findings have crucial implications for preventative healthcare screenings and medical and psychiatric interventions, yet more research is needed to determine whether these interventions could be feasible and successful for patients with SMI in rural community settings.


Johnson City, TN

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