Building Provincial Mental Health Capacity in Primary Care: An Evaluation of a Project ECHO Mental Health Program
OBJECTIVE: Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (Project ECHO©) addresses urban-rural disparities in access to specialist care by building primary care provider (PCP) capacity through tele-education. Evidence supporting the use of this model for mental health care is limited. Therefore, this study evaluated a mental health and addictions-focused ECHO program. Primary outcome measures were PCP knowledge and perceived self-efficacy. Secondary objectives included: satisfaction, engagement, and sense of professional isolation. PCP knowledge and self-efficacy were hypothesized to improve with participation.
METHODS: Using Moore's evaluation framework, we evaluated the ECHO program on participant engagement, satisfaction, learning, and competence. A pre-post design and weekly questionnaires measured primary and secondary outcomes, respectively.
RESULTS: Knowledge test performance and self-efficacy ratings improved post-ECHO (knowledge change was significant, p < 0.001, d = 1.13; self-efficacy approached significance; p = 0.056, d = 0.57). Attrition rate was low (7.7%) and satisfaction ratings were high across all domains, with spokes reporting reduced feelings of isolation.
DISCUSSION: This is the first study to report objective mental health outcomes related to Project ECHO. The results indicate high-participant retention is achievable, and provide preliminary evidence for increased knowledge and self-efficacy. These findings suggest this intervention may improve mental health management in primary care.
Sockalingam S, Arena A, Serhal E, Mohri L, Alloo J, Crawford A. Building Provincial Mental Health Capacity in Primary Care: An Evaluation of a Project ECHO Mental Health Program. Acad Psychiatry. 2018 Aug;42(4):451-457. doi: 10.1007/s40596-017-0735-z. Epub 2017 Jun 7. PMID: 28593537.