BACKGROUND: People diagnosed with a serious mental illness have worse physical health and lower life expectancy than the general population. Integration of mental and physical health services is seen as one service development that could better support this. This protocol describes the evaluation of the provision of a Virtual Physical Health Clinic (VPHC) and Consultant Connect (CC) services to one UK-based mental health Trust.
METHODS: Prospective, formative, pragmatic evaluation using both quantitative and qualitative techniques and driven by implementation science theoretical frameworks. The VPHC and CC are described along with the methodology being used to rapidly evaluate their implementation, effectiveness and potential economic impact in order to inform future roll out. We will assess the implementation process through quantitative data on uptake and reach and through self-reported data to be collected from interviews and the use of validated implementation outcome assessment measures. We will assess implementation strategies using the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) strategies as a framework. We will assess the health economic impact of both services using established health economic methods including cost comparison scenarios and health service utilisation analyses.
DISCUSSION: Supporting the physical health management of people in psychiatric inpatient units is important in improving the physical health of this population. Integration of mental and physical health can help this to happen effectively. This initiative provides one of the first service evaluation protocols of its kind to be reported in the UK at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.