Primary care after psychiatric crisis: A qualitative analysis

Kim S. Griswold, Luis E. Zayas, Patricia A. Pastore, Susan J. Smith, Christine M. Wagner, Timothy J. Servoss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Patients with serious psychiatric problems experience difficulty accessing primary care. The goals of this study were to assess whether care managers improved access and to understand patients' experiences with health care after a psychiatric crisis. METHODS: A total of 175 consecutive patients seeking care in a psychiatric emergency department were randomly assigned to an intervention group with care managers or a control group. Brief, semistructured interviews about health care encounters were conducted at baseline and 1 year later. Five raters, using the content-driven, immersion-crystallization approach, analyzed 112 baseline and year-end interviews from 28 participants in each group. The main outcomes were patients' responses about their care experiences, connections with primary care, and integration of medical and mental health care. Scores for physical function and mental function were compared by analysis of variance (ANOVA). RESULTS: At baseline, most participants described negative experiences in receiving care and emphasized the importance of listening, sensitivity, and respect. Fully 71% of patients in the intervention group said that having a care manager to assist them with primary care connections was beneficial. Patients in the intervention group had significantly better physical and mental function than their counterparts in the control group at 6 months (P = .03 for each) but not at 12 months. There was also a trend toward functional improvement over the course of the study in the intervention group. CONCLUSIONS: This analysis suggests that care management is effective in helping patients access primary care after a psychiatric crisis. It provides evidence on and insight into how care may be delivered more effectively for this population. Future work should assess the sustainability of care connections and longer-term patient health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-43
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Family Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Continuity of care
  • Delivery of health care
  • Health services research
  • Mental health
  • Patient care management
  • Primary care
  • Psychiatry
  • Qualitative research
  • Vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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