Engaging High-Need Patients in Intensive Outpatient Programs: A Qualitative Synthesis of Engagement Strategies

Donna M. Zulman
Colin W. O'Brien
Cindie Slightam
Jessica Y. Breland
David Krauth
Andrea L. Nevedal
Peer-Reviewed Article
August 2018

This resource identifies features of intensive outpatient programs that increase patient engagement.

  • Program leaders and clinicians from 12 intensive outpatient programs responded to a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews about common barriers to patient engagement and strategies employed to address these challenges.
  • The most common barriers included physical symptoms/limitations, mental illness, care fragmentation, lack of social support, and financial insecurity.
  • Patient engagement strategies included services to support communication, activities to foster patient trust and relationships with program staff, and counseling to build problem-solving capabilities.
  • Program features that enhanced engagement included multidisciplinary teams with diverse skills and personalities to facilitate relationship building; sufficient staffing and resources; and a philosophy that permitted flexibility and patient-centeredness.
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