Participatory planning of a primary care service for people with severe mental disorders in rural Ethiopia

Rosie Mayston, Atalay Alem, Alehegn Habtamu, Teshome Shibre, Abebaw Fekadu, Charlotte Hanlon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Little is understood about the feasibility and acceptability of primary care-based models of task-sharing care for people with severe mental disorders (SMDs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). A participatory planning approach was adopted in preparation for the transition from hospital-delivered psychiatric care for SMD to a primary care-based, task-sharing model in a rural Ethiopian community. In this article, we present findings from community consultation meetings (n = 4), focus group discussions (n = 7) and in-depth interviews (n = 11) with key stakeholders (healthcare administrators and providers, caregivers, service-users and community leaders) which were carried out over a 2-year period in the context of ongoing dialogue with the community. The principle of local delivery of mental health services was agreed upon by all stakeholder groups. Key reasons for supporting local delivery were increased access for the majority due to proximity, reduced cost and reduced stress related to transportation. However, acceptance of the new service was qualified by concerns about the competence of staff to deliver a comprehensive and dependable service of equal quality to that currently provided at the hospital. Adequate training and support, as well as ensuring consistency of medication supply were identified as key components to ensure success. Encouragingly, our results suggest that there is significant support for the service change and an interest for the mobilization of community resources to support this. One of the study strengths was that we were able to present the different perspectives of multiple stakeholder groups. By nesting the study in an ongoing community-based cohort of people with SMD we were able to interview a more representative and empowered group of caregivers and service users than is often available in LMICs. Despite this, the extent to which service-users are able to express their opinions is likely limited by their marginalized role in rural Ethiopian society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-376
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2015


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