, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 97-108

An Instrument to Assess Competencies of Providers Treating Severe Mental Illness

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One approach to improving the quality of care for severe mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia is through the improvement of provider competencies; the attitudes, knowledge, and skills needed to deliver high-quality care. This paper describes a new instrument designed to measure such a set of competencies. A total of 341 providers of services to clients with SMI at 38 clinics within 5 publicly financed treatment organizations in 2 western states were asked to complete a paper-and-pencil survey including the new Competency Assessment Instrument (CAI: 15 scales, each assessing a particular provider competency), and additional measures used to establish validity (Recovery Attitude Questionnaire—7, Client Optimism Scale). Seventy-nine percent (N =269) responded at baseline, 83% (N =282) responded at 2 weeks. Ninety-seven percent of baseline respondents completed the survey at 2 weeks. Most CAI scales have good internal consistency (Cronbach's αs = .52–.93), test–retest reliability (scales ranged from .42 to .78), and validity, and should be useful in efforts to improve care.