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CommonGround Investigation Published by Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal

January 16, 2014

CommonGround, a Web-based application developed to support recovery and shared decision making for persons with mental health conditions, is an effective tool for self-care, according to a recent study by Community Care Behavioral Health Organization (Community Care) and Pat Deegan, PhD & Associates (PDA).

The study results, which were recently published in an article in "Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal," focus on the integration of personal medicine (personal self-care strategies) into outpatient health services. The article - "Integrating Personal Medicine Into Service Delivery: Empowering People in Recovery" - used evidence from a Community Care-supported initiative which established decision support centers using CommonGround in 12 behavioral health agencies.

The results of the investigation support the use of CommonGround to promote recovery, functioning, and symptom management in Medicaid-enrolled individuals with mental health conditions. CommonGround participants report improvements in progress toward recovery, better health functioning, and fewer negative illness symptoms over time.

"Behavioral health services have seen a shift from professionally directed treatment of illness to a focus on wellness and person-directed management of health," said Kim MacDonald-Wilson, lead author of the article.

One of the three self-care activities that users of CommonGround must do is to enter three personal medicines at each visit and discuss whether or not they are using them between appointments. The other two activities are development of a "power statement" and generation of a summary health report that the individual reviews with their doctor. By offering their own resources and strategies, participants recognize a way into recovery that is not solely through the use of prescribed medicine.

To investigate the use of person-directed management of mental health, the study examined:

  • Results from CommonGround health reports generated by persons in recovery at all 12 agencies from March 2008 through January 2013.
  • The relationship among self-care strategies and individual-reported outcomes to begin to better understand the recovery process from the individual's perspective.

The data suggest that individuals using personal medicine were empowered to work with their prescribers to find a balance between what they do to be well and what they take to be well. This balance is described by Pat Deegan of PDA as "a pathway into recovery."

In addition to Ms. MacDonald-Wilson and Ms. Deegan, the other study contributors include: Shari Hutchinson, MS; Nancy Parrotta, MA, LPC, NCC; and James Schuster, MD, from Community Care.

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