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The patient experience in community mental health services for older people: a concept mapping approach to support the development of a new quality measure

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Wilberforce, Mark 
Batten, Eric 
Challis, David 
Davies, Linda 
Kelly, Michael P 



            The patient experience is a crucial part of the measurement of service quality. However, instruments to evaluate experiential quality in the community mental health care of older adults are lacking. Before designing a new instrument, clarity is needed about what is to be measured, and how care experiences are articulated by patients. The study aimed to construct a framework to describe older patients’ experience of community mental health and social care.
            Concept mapping blends structured qualitative data collection with quantitative analysis in a mixed method approach. Five activities were undertaken. Patients first identified sentences describing the care experience; a card-sort exercise then grouped these thematically; multidimensional analysis portrayed these data in a map of clusters; interpretation was by patient advisers; finally a new questionnaire was designed. The research involved 22 older people with mental health problems and 29 mental health practitioners, from one region of England.
            Sixty-seven statements were identified that described the care experience. Analysis of card sort data revealed seven clusters, which were interpreted by patient advisers to the study as: personal qualities and relationships; communication problems; feeling powerless; in-and-out care; bureaucracy; focus on life, not just mental health; and continuity of care. These themes and the component statements were used as a foundation for later work, developing a new measure of the care experience in mental health services for older people.
            Concept mapping has many strengths as an empirical and participant-driven means for underpinning new measurement instruments. A group of older people identified 67 candidate statements that could act as questionnaire items grouped within seven themes. Future research will establish the psychometric properties of the new measure.



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