OBJECTIVE: Drawing on an organizational behavior framework, this study
explored the impact of attitudinal, occupational, and organizational
factors on mental health professionals' involvement with clients' families.
METHODS: Data came from a survey conducted with psychiatric staff at the
largest public hospital and the largest private hospital in Indianapolis
between 1991 and 1993 as part of the Indianapolis network mental health
study. Responses of 184 clinicians who provided direct care were analyzed
using multiple regression to assess the impact of their attitudes toward
families, job characteristics, and organizational work environment on the
amount of contact they had with clients' families. RESULTS: Providers'
attitudes toward families had no significant effect on the frequency of
their contact with families. Job and organizational factors were the
strongest predictors. Specifically, being a social worker or therapist and
working on day and evening shifts were associated with increased
involvement with families. Staff members' perceptions of how well their
unit functioned were also positively correlated with frequency of contact
with families. CONCLUSIONS: The organizational environment in mental health
agencies has a significant influence on the extent to which professionals
become involved with clients' families. Administrators and policy makers
should give careful consideration to how the work environment encourages or
limits mental health professionals' abilities and willingness to get more
involved with clients' families.