Background: Globally, close to one billion people are living with a mental health disorder, and it is one of the most neglected areas in Public Health. People with severe mental illness have greater mortality risk than the general population, experience health care inequalities throughout life and represent a vulnerable, under-served and under-treated population, who have been overlooked in health inequality research to date. There is currently a dearth of evidence in relation to understanding the palliative care needs of people with severe mental illness and how future care delivery can be designed to both recognise and respond to those needs. This study aims to co-design an evidenced informed service model of integrated palliative care for persons living with a severe mental illness. Methods: This qualitative sequential study underpinned by interpretivism will have six phases. An expert reference group will be established in Phase 1, to inform all stages of this study. Phase 2 will include a systematic literature review to synthesise current evidence in relation to palliative care service provision for people with severe mental illness. In Phase 3, qualitative interviews will be undertaken with both, patients who have a severe mental illness and in receipt of palliative care (n = 13), and bereaved caregivers of people who have died 6−18 months previously with a diagnosis of severe mental illness (n = 13), across two recruitment sties in the United Kingdom. Focus groups (n = 4) with both mental health and palliative care multidisciplinary staff will be undertaken across the two recruitment sites in Phase 4. Phase 5 will involve the co-design of a service model of integrated palliative care for persons living with severe mental illness. Phase 6 will develop practice recommendations for this client cohort. Discussion: Palliative care needs to be available at all levels of care systems; it is estimated that, globally, only 14% of patients who need palliative care receive it. Reducing inequalities experienced by people with severe mental illness is embedded in the National Health Service Long Term Plan. Internationally, the gap between those with a mental illness needing care and those with access to care remains considerable. Future policy and practice will benefit from a better understanding of the needs of this client cohort and the development of a co-designed integrated care pathway to facilitate timely access to palliative care for people with a severe mental illness.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This study is funded by The Health and Social Care, Research and Development Division, Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, Doctoral Fellowship Award, EAT/5649/20.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- qualitative research
- severe mental illness
- palliative care
- end-of-life care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Informatics
- Health Policy
- Health Information Management
- Leadership and Management