Engaging African-American Veterans in Mental Health Care: Patients’ Perspectives

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Despite growing interest in patient engagement, the concept remains poorly defined. Moreover, patients’ perspectives on engagement are lacking, particularly those of minority patients. A better understanding of patients’ views and what influences their engagement in health services will facilitate better patient education and implementation practices to enhance patient participation in health care. This article addresses patients’ perspectives of facilitators and barriers to engagement in outpatient mental health services. Forty-nine African-American veterans with mental illness receiving routine medication management visits were interviewed. Qualitative data analysis was guided by a constructivist grounded theory approach. Participants identified several barriers and facilitators to engagement in mental health services, including patient as well as provider-related factors. Results emphasize the role of providers in facilitating sustained involvement of patients in their own care. Based on the findings, the authors offer a preliminary framework for patient engagement that encompasses patient and provider factors.

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