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Keywords:

  • continuing education;
  • early psychosis intervention;
  • remote learning;
  • rural health service;
  • telepsychiatry

Abstract

Background

Most of the early psychosis intervention (EPI) training has focused on family physicians participants. In Northern Ontario, there is a shortage of primary care. This paper will present evaluation results of a pilot training programme for rural and remote youth mental health service providers.

Method

A mixed methods approach was used. We evaluated a 2-day workshop about EPI for non-medical mental health workers delivered onsite and simultaneously by videoconferencing. There were 19 participants across four agencies. Seven were onsite and 12 were offsite. Participants’ knowledge was measured using a validated questionnaire at pre-intervention and at 3-, 6- and 9-month follow up. A repeated measures ANOVA was used to evaluate knowledge acquisition between the two modes of training. At 6 months, focus group interviews were conducted to explore their experiences of the mode of intervention delivery and evaluation. Emerging themes were iteratively derived through a series of discussions involving independent coders.

Results

Only 15 complete datasets were available of the 19 original participants. Differences in knowledge acquisition between the two groups did not reach statistical difference. Six-month focus group data indicated that participants improved their relationship with EPI services and they were part of a strengthened network with other providers in the region. Post-intervention, the accuracy of referrals from participating agencies increased dramatically, with an increase in proportion of referrals who were eligible for EPI services. The follow-up process engaged participants in learning and re-engaged them with the material taught during the training session.

Conclusions

The results about developing service partnerships and relationship with specialist services are encouraging for policy and service decision-makers to address mental health service needs in northern and remote areas.