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We evaluated the effectiveness of community-based rehabilitation (CBR) in reducing depressive symptoms, alcohol use disorder, food insecurity and underweight in people with schizophrenia. This cluster-randomised controlled trial was conducted in a rural district of Ethiopia. Fifty-four sub-districts were allocated in a 1:1 ratio to the facility-based care [FBC] plus CBR arm and the FBC alone arm. Lay workers delivered CBR over 12 months. We assessed food insecurity (self-reported hunger), underweight (BMI< 18.5 kg/m2), depressive symptoms (PHQ-9) and alcohol use disorder (AUDIT ≥ 8) at 6 and 12 months. Seventy-nine participants with schizophrenia in 24 sub-districts were assigned to CBR plus FBC and 87 participants in 24 sub-districts were assigned to FBC only. There was no evidence of an intervention effect on food insecurity (aOR 0.52, 95% CI 0.16–1.67; p = 0.27), underweight (aOR 0.44, 95% CI 0.17–1.12; p = 0.08), alcohol use disorder (aOR 0.82, 95% CI 0.24–2.74; p = 0.74) or depressive symptoms (adjusted mean difference − 0.06, 95% CI −1.35, 1.22; p = 0.92). Psychosocial interventions in low-resource settings should support access to treatment amongst people with schizophrenia, and further research should explore how impacts on economic, physical and mental health outcomes can be achieved.
There is limited evidence of the safety and impact of task-shared care for people with severe mental illnesses (SMI; psychotic disorders and bipolar disorder) in low-income countries. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and impact of a district-level plan for task-shared mental health care on 6 and 12-month clinical and social outcomes of people with SMI in rural southern Ethiopia.
In the Programme for Improving Mental health carE, we conducted an intervention cohort study. Trained primary healthcare (PHC) workers assessed community referrals, diagnosed SMI and initiated treatment, with independent research diagnostic assessments by psychiatric nurses. Primary outcomes were symptom severity and disability. Secondary outcomes included discrimination and restraint.
Almost all (94.5%) PHC worker diagnoses of SMI were verified by psychiatric nurses. All prescribing was within recommended dose limits. A total of 245 (81.7%) people with SMI were re-assessed at 12 months. Minimally adequate treatment was received by 29.8%. All clinical and social outcomes improved significantly. The impact on disability (standardised mean difference 0.50; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.35–0.65) was greater than impact on symptom severity (standardised mean difference 0.28; 95% CI 0.13–0.44). Being restrained in the previous 12 months reduced from 25.3 to 10.6%, and discrimination scores reduced significantly.
An integrated district level mental health care plan employing task-sharing safely addressed the large treatment gap for people with SMI in a rural, low-income country setting. Randomised controlled trials of differing models of task-shared care for people with SMI are warranted.
Developing evidence for the implementation and scaling up of mental healthcare in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) like Ethiopia is an urgent priority.
To outline a mental healthcare plan (MHCP), as a scalable template for the implementation of mental healthcare in rural Ethiopia.
A mixed methods approach was used to develop the MHCP for the three levels of the district health system (community, health facility and healthcare organisation).
The community packages were community case detection, community reintegration and community inclusion. The facility packages included capacity building, decision support and staff well-being. Organisational packages were programme management, supervision and sustainability.
The MHCP focused on improving demand and access at the community level, inclusive care at the facility level and sustainability at the organisation level. The MHCP represented an essential framework for the provision of integrated care and may be a useful template for similar LMIC.
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