, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 43-50

What do case managers do? An investigation of case manager interventions and their relationship to client outcome

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Background: The aim of the present study, which forms part of a wider case management multi-center study, was to explore the content of case managers' work, service patterns, and their relationship to client outcome. Methods: Client background characteristics were registered at admission, and needs of care and psychosocial functioning were assessed at admission to the service and after 18 months. In seven of the services an extended follow-up was performed, which included assessments regarding quality of life, level of symptoms and social network. The study comprised 176 severely mentally ill clients, of whom 153 participated in a general 18-month follow-up (87%), with 113 clients out of 134 participating in an extended follow-up sample (84%). Results: The investigation of service patterns showed that clients received services in a great variety of life areas using a number of different types of interventions. The results support the assumption that severely mentally ill clients are in need of case management services that offer more than brokerage services and coordination. A more active rehabilitation-oriented approach was found towards younger clients and clients who had a job, which may reflect a higher level of ambition in assisting younger clients to gain access to and stay in education and the labor market. Several types of intervention were related to client outcome. Brokerage, intervention planning and more interventions in the area of skills relating to activities of daily living were related to a more pronounced decrease in needs of care. More time spent on indirect work on behalf of the clients was related to a better outcome with regard to psychiatric symptoms and social network. Conclusions: The results indicate that specific service components have a more obvious distinct impact than others on outcome, and that this increase in effectiveness varies with the outcome targeted.