Background: Patients with serious mental illness die on average 10-15yrs earlier than those without. This is primarily from ischemic heart disease and complications of metabolic syndrome. Guidelines exist regarding screening for cardiometabolic risk factors yet screening rates remain low.
Aims: The study aimed to investigate the feasibility of an electronic reminder system plus an education session to improve screening rates for cardiometabolic syndrome in patients with serious mental illness.
Method: A mixed methods approach was taken involving three general practices. Qualitative data were obtained through semi-structured telephone interviews at the conclusion of the study, supplemented by quantitative data obtained pre and post intervention.
Results: Practice staff had a positive response to the project. There was a lack of awareness regarding the need for screening. The reminder system fitted well with usual practice, was straight-forward to implement and provided perceived benefit to both patients and staff. This was supported by data suggesting a trend towards an increase in cardiometabolic screening measures following the intervention. The sample was insufficient for robust statistical analyses.
Discussion: The use of an electronic reminder system and education session to improve screening for cardiometabolic risk factors in general practice is acceptable, practical and simple to integrate. However, a randomised control study is required to assess effectiveness and whether this translates to an improvement in cardiometabolic health.
Conclusion: The use of an electronic reminder system and education session to improve cardiometabolic screening for patients with serious mental illness appears to be both feasible and initial findings support further large scale research of effectiveness.