BACKGROUND: Continuity of mental health care is central to improve the conditions of people with enduring mental disorders. In Denmark, several government-funded projects on the improvement of continuity of mental health care have been initiated since 2009.
AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate how national intervention projects on continuity of mental health care have addressed major barriers for continuity of care and extract general learning points from the projects on the improvement of continuity of care.
METHOD: The study was designed as a thematic document analysis of external evaluations of 14 major national projects on the improvement of continuity of routine mental health care from 2009 to 2017. The data material was processed through thematic coding and comparative analysis.
RESULTS: The analysis was organized around four main barriers for continuity: Lack of models for collaboration, different professional cultures and methods, lack of channels of communication, and intersectoral differences in management, economy, and legislation. The first three barriers were addressed in a predominant part of the projects through development of collaborative models, common tools and communication systems. The latter structural barrier was not addressed in any of the projects.
CONCLUSION: There is an ongoing need to address barriers for continuity of mental health care. So far, there has been a much larger focus on organizational, cultural and communicational aspects of continuity than on structural aspects. The study calls for an increased focus on how changes in existing managerial, economic and legislative structures can improve continuity of care.