Illness Management and Recovery (IMR) is a standardized psychosocial intervention that is designed to help people with severe mental illness manage their illness and achieve personal recovery goals. This literature review summarizes the research on consumer-level effects of IMR and articles describing its implementation.
In 2011, the authors conducted a literature search of Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library by using the key words “illness management and recovery,” “wellness management and recovery,” or “IMR” AND (“schizophrenia” OR “bipolar” OR “depression” OR “recovery” OR “mental health”). Publications that cited two seminal IMR articles also guided further exploration of sources. Articles that did not deal explicitly with IMR or a direct adaptation were excluded.
Three randomized-controlled trials (RCTs), three quasi-controlled trials, and three pre-post trials have been conducted. The RCTs found that consumers receiving IMR reported significantly more improved scores on the IMR Scale (IMRS) than consumers who received treatment as usual. IMRS ratings by clinicians and ratings of psychiatric symptoms by independent observers were also more improved for the IMR consumers. Implementation studies (N=16) identified several important barriers to and facilitators of IMR, including supervision and agency support. Implementation outcomes, such as participation rates and fidelity, varied widely.
IMR shows promise for improving some consumer-level outcomes. Important issues regarding implementation require additional study. Future research is needed to compare outcomes of IMR consumers and active control groups and to provide a more detailed understanding of how other services utilized by consumers may affect outcomes of IMR.