Randomized controlled trial of teaching practice nurses to carry out structured assessments of patients receiving depot antipsychotic injections.
Burns T., Millar E., Garland C., Kendrick T., Chisholm B., Ross F.
BACKGROUND: A third of patients with schizophrenia are out of contact with secondary services. Many of these patients receive maintenance medication as depot antipsychotics from practice nurses, most of whom have negligible training in mental health. AIM: To examine the impact of a structured assessment on the process of care and clinical status of schizophrenia patients by practice nurses who received a one-day training course. METHOD: All identified patients were randomly allocated to structured assessments and outcome, measured by the number of assessments and the changes in care recorded in primary care notes. A comprehensive assessment of clinical and social functioning and level of unmet need in intervention and control patients was carried out after one year by an independent researcher. RESULTS: A high rate of consultation and clinical need in this patient group was demonstrated. Practice nurses were more diligent in carrying out assessments than general practitioners (GPs), but there was no impact on treatment patterns or clinical outcome. CONCLUSIONS: Structured assessments by practice nurses are feasible with this patient group, but training, targeted at both nurses and GPs, is needed if this intervention is to translate into health gain.