Article Text

This article has a correction. Please see:

Download PDFPDF

Specialised teams or personal continuity across inpatient and outpatient mental healthcare? Study protocol for a natural experiment
  1. Domenico Giacco1,
  2. Victoria Jane Bird1,
  3. Paul McCrone2,
  4. Vincent Lorant3,
  5. Pablo Nicaise3,
  6. Andrea Pfennig4,
  7. Michael Bauer4,
  8. Mirella Ruggeri5,
  9. Antonio Lasalvia5,
  10. Jacek Moskalewicz6,
  11. Marta Welbel6,
  12. Stefan Priebe1
  1. 1Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry (World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development), Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  2. 2Health Service and Population Research Department, Centre for the Economics of Mental and Physical Health, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK
  3. 3Institute of Health and Society IRSS, Université catholique de Louvain, Bruxelles, Belgium
  4. 4Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
  5. 5Section of Psychiatry, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy
  6. 6Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Domenico Giacco, D.Giacco{at}


Introduction Mental healthcare organisation can either pursue specialisation, that is, distinct clinicians and teams for inpatient and outpatient care or personal continuity of care, that is, the same primary clinician for a patient across the two settings. Little systematic research has compared these approaches. Existing studies subject have serious methodological shortcomings. Yet, costly reorganisations of services have been carried out in different European countries, inconsistently aiming to achieve specialisation or personal continuity of care. More reliable evidence is required on whether specialisation or continuity of care is more effective and cost-effective, and whether this varies for different patient groups and contexts.

Design and methods In a natural experiment, we aim to recruit at least 6000 patients consecutively admitted to inpatient psychiatric care in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the UK. In each country, care approaches supporting specialisation and personal continuity coexist. Patients will be followed up at 1 year to compare outcomes, costs and experiences. Inclusion criteria are: 18 years of age or older; clinical diagnosis of psychosis, affective disorder or anxiety/somatisation disorder; sufficient command of the language of the host country; absence of cognitive deterioration and/or organic brain disorders; and capacity to provide informed consent.

Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval was obtained in all countries: (1) England: NRES Committee North East—Newcastle & North Tyneside (ref: 14/NE/1017); (2) Belgium: Comité d'Ethique hospitalo-facultaire des Cliniques St-Luc; (3) Germany: Ethical Board, Technische Universität Dresden; (4) Italy: Comitati Etici per la sperimentazione clinica (CESC) delle provincie di Verona, Rovigo, Vicenza, Treviso, Padova; (5) Poland: Komisja Bioetyczna przy Instytucie Psychiatrii i Neurologii w Warszawie. We will disseminate the findings through scientific publications and a study-specific website. At the end of the study, we will develop recommendations for policy decision-making, and organise national and international workshops with stakeholders.

Trial registration number ISRCTN registry: ISRCTN40256812.


This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • Correction
    British Medical Journal Publishing Group