Interventions and approaches to integrating HIV and mental health services: a systematic review

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Abstract

Background:

The frequency in which HIV and AIDS and mental health problems co-exist, and the complex bi-directional relationship between them, highlights the need for effective care models combining services for HIV and mental health. Here, we present a systematic review that synthesizes the literature on interventions and approaches integrating these services.

Methods:

This review was part of a larger systematic review on integration of services for HIV and non-communicable diseases. Eligible studies included those that described or evaluated an intervention or approach aimed at integrating HIV and mental health care. We searched multiple databases from inception until October 2015, independently screened articles identified for inclusion, conducted data extraction, and assessed evaluative papers for risk of bias.

Results:

Forty-five articles were eligible for this review. We identified three models of integration at the meso and micro levels: single-facility integration, multi-facility integration, and integrated care coordinated by a non-physician case manager. Single-site integration enhances multidisciplinary coordination and reduces access barriers for patients. However, the practicality and cost-effectiveness of providing a full continuum of specialized care on-site for patients with complex needs is arguable. Integration based on a collaborative network of specialized agencies may serve those with multiple co-morbidities but fragmented and poorly coordinated care can pose barriers. Integrated care coordinated by a single case manager can enable continuity of care for patients but requires appropriate training and support for case managers. Involving patients as key actors in facilitating integration within their own treatment plan is a promising approach.

Conclusion:

This review identified much diversity in integration models combining HIV and mental health services, which are shown to have potential in yielding positive patient and service delivery outcomes when implemented within appropriate contexts. Our review revealed a lack of research in low- and middle- income countries, and was limited to most studies being descriptive. Overall, studies that seek to evaluate and compare integration models in terms of long-term outcomes and cost-effectiveness are needed, particularly at the health system level and in regions with high HIV and AIDS burden.

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