A Randomized Trial: Are Care Navigators Effective in Connecting Patients to Primary Care after Psychiatric Crisis?
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Persons with serious mental illnesses suffer excess medical morbidity compared to the general population. This RCT aimed to determine whether navigators are effective in helping patients connect to primary care after psychiatric crisis. Adults presenting for emergency care were randomly assigned to a navigator versus usual care. Navigators facilitated access to primary care. Outcomes were connection rates to medical care and the impact of health insurance, hospitalization and mental health care on primary care attendance. After 1 year, the intervention group was statistically more likely to access care, versus controls (62.4 vs. 37.6%, P < .001). Navigators were effective in helping patients connect to primary care after a psychiatric crisis. Improved access to primary care is important given the complex chronic health problems of this vulnerable cohort.