Past literature documents many individual predictors of treatment engagement among mental health clients in community settings, but few studies have examined clinic characteristics that may be associated with treatment engagement. With data from a patient activation and self-management trial, this study examined the variation in demographic and clinic characteristics across community mental health clinics and whether this variation predicted differences in treatment engagement in mental health services.
Chart reviews were conducted for 638 clients of 12 community mental health clinics. Client attendance records were collected for a one-year period to examine engagement (defined as the ratio of kept versus scheduled appointments). Adjusting for client variability, the investigators examined which clinic-level characteristics were associated with treatment engagement.
Clinics varied significantly in their clients’ demographic characteristics and engagement in mental health care. Providing case management and offering transportation vouchers or free parking at the clinic were associated with lower engagement. However, offering outreach was associated with greater engagement.
The results of this study suggest that certain clinic characteristics are associated with engagement in mental health services. These results demonstrate the difficulties faced by community mental health clinics in reducing no-show rates even in the face of strong efforts to improve engagement.