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Integrated care – panacea or white elephant? A review of integrated care approaches in Australia over the past two decades

Ali Cheetham (Turning Point, Eastern Health, Richmond, Australia and Monash Addiction Research Centre, Eastern Health Clinical School, Melbourne, Australia)
Shalini Arunogiri (Turning Point, Eastern Health, Richmond, Australia and Monash Addiction Research Centre, Eastern Health Clinical School, Melbourne, Australia)
Dan Lubman (Turning Point, Eastern Health, Richmond, Australia and Monash Addiction Research Centre, Eastern Health Clinical School, Melbourne, Australia)

Advances in Dual Diagnosis

ISSN: 1757-0972

Article publication date: 26 January 2023

Issue publication date: 9 February 2023

271

Abstract

Purpose

Integrated care is widely supported as a means of improving treatment outcomes for people with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. Over the past two decades, Australian state and federal governments have identified integrated care as a policy priority and invested in a number of research and capacity building initiatives. This study aims to examine Australian research evaluating the effectiveness of integrated treatment approaches to provide insight into implications for future research and practice in integrated treatment.

Design/methodology/approach

This narrative review examines Australian research evaluating empirical evidence of the effectiveness of integrated treatment approaches within specific populations and evidence from initiatives aimed at integrating care at the service or system level.

Findings

Research conducted within the Australian context provides considerable evidence to support the effectiveness of integrated approaches to treatment, particularly for people with high prevalence co-occurring disorders or symptoms of these (i.e. anxiety and depression). These have been delivered through various modalities (including online and telephone-based services) to improve health outcomes in a range of populations. However, there is less evidence regarding the effectiveness of specific models or systems of integrated care, including for more severe mental disorders. Despite ongoing efforts on behalf of the Australian government, attempts to sustain system-level initiatives have remained hampered by structural barriers.

Originality/value

Effective integrated interventions can be delivered by trained clinicians without requiring integration at an organisational or structural level. While there is still considerable work to be done in terms of building sustainable models at a system level, this evidence provides a potential foundation for the development of integrated care models that can be delivered as part of routine practice.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: D.L. is supported by an NHMRC Leadership Grant (ID # 1196892). S.A. is supported by a NHMRC Investigator Grant (GNT2008193).

Citation

Cheetham, A., Arunogiri, S. and Lubman, D. (2023), "Integrated care – panacea or white elephant? A review of integrated care approaches in Australia over the past two decades", Advances in Dual Diagnosis, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 3-16. https://doi.org/10.1108/ADD-10-2022-0026

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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