Pathways of recovery: preventing further episodes of mental illness (monograph)

Information: monitoring, evaluation and research

Page last updated: 2006

Underpinning the implementation of any intervention or innovation is the need for information at different levels, and this also applies to relapse prevention. There is, firstly, a need to be able to identify programs that are related to relapse prevention and to monitor their uptake and implementation. The effectiveness of relapse prevention programs needs to be evaluated and their safety and quality monitored. Such monitoring requires high quality information systems that can generate relevant data in a timely manner. As noted earlier, it is currently not possible to identify people with psychiatric disabilities in many of the data collections outside the mainstream health sector, and this limits understanding of the utility of these services for people with mental illness.

Secondly, the evidence base around the factors that affect relapse needs development. There is currently little scientific evidence related to the risk and protective factors for relapse and the efficacy of psychosocial interventions, mainly because there has been little research interest in the area (see Jorm et al 2001). Such research needs to be encouraged and targeted. Research funding is a politicised process and advocacy is required from the mental health community to ensure that when such areas of research need are identified, concerted effort is applied to ensure that the resources are made available to undertake it.

We need to recognise the imbalance of research. We shouldn't assume that things that aren't well researched are not effective ... We're not going to get research dollars to look at the efficacy of psychosocial interventions as opposed to medical interventions, because you can't sell them. —Clinician