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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 351

Outcomes from the Trial Implementation of a Multidisciplinary Online Learning Program in Rural Mental Health Emergency Care

1 NSW Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, The University of Newcastle, Orange, New South Wales, Australia
2 Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research, School of Medicine and Public Health, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia
3 Dubbo-Plains Division of General Practice, New South Wales, Australia

Correspondence Address:
D J Hills
Locked Bag 6005, Orange NSW 2800
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 20589605

Introduction: Emergency Departments (EDs) are often the first point of contact for people with acute mental health problems. The impact of the Mental Health Emergency Care (MHEC) online learning program on the knowledge and skills development of clinicians and support staff was evaluated, and options for sustainable implementation of the program were proposed. Methods: Participants were recruited from the four rural health services and the rural areas of one metropolitan health service in New South Wales, Australia. The MHEC course was conducted online over 24 weeks and comprised four sequential modules, each based on a clinical scenario that demonstrated a typical, acute mental health presentation to a general hospital ED. The course was designed to model collaborative practice in mental health emergency care. Results: Participants were surveyed before and after completing the MHEC course. Statistically significant improvements were detected in participant confidence in managing key mental health problems, perceived self-efficacy in dealing with challenging, aggressive behaviours and confidence in key online learning skills. Participants also reported very positive experiences in relation to the course content and structure, instructor support, multidisciplinary discussion and feedback, and improvements in their knowledge and skills about emergency mental healthcare. Conclusions: This study provides evidence for the effectiveness and acceptability of an online educational program in developing the capacity of front-line staff to respond effectively to people who present to EDs with acute mental health problems. The positive outcomes and evaluations of the MHEC course provide support for the deployment of online learning programs that address mental health emergency care.

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