Project Summary

PCORI funds Dissemination and Implementation projects to increase awareness and promote the use of PCORI research findings to improve healthcare practices and health outcomes. This project is proposing to conduct dissemination and implementation activities for the results of the research project: Using Wellness Coaches and Extra Support to Improve the Health and Wellness of Adults with Serious Mental Illness

What were the results from the original PCORI-funded research study?

The researchers tested two ways to help adults with serious mental illness, or SMI, improve their physical health and wellness. Both ways used a behavioral health home model. These models bring a focus on physical health into a behavioral health setting. In both approaches, wellness coaches worked with service users to help them set health and wellness goals, work with their doctors, and get needed care.

In one approach, wellness nurses helped service users access health care and monitor their physical health. Nurses also gave advice to wellness coaches on working with patients to set physical health and wellness goals. In the other approach, service users got access to an online portal or written information tailored to help them learn about and improve their health. The study found that the two approaches had about the same success in increasing service users’ use of primary and specialty care, involvement in care, and quality of life.

Why is this research finding important?

People with SMI often have other long-term health problems. They often die at a much younger age than the general population. At the same time, mental illness or substance use problems can make it hard for people to get health care or take care of their physical health. Increasing these service users’ use of primary and specialty health services and their involvement in care can help them improve their physical health.

What is the goal of this project?

This project is bringing Behavioral Health Home Plus, which draws on the unique aspects of both models studied, to two new behavioral health settings. One is adult opioid treatment programs. The other is youth residential treatment centers that treat emotional, behavioral, and substance use issues. The project team wants to address physical health and wellness in these settings, where service users are at risk for long-term health problems and challenges getting health care.

What is the project team doing?

With help from service users and healthcare providers, the project team is adapting materials used in the programs tested in the original PCORI-funded research study. These materials include a guide for behavioral healthcare providers about how to combine physical and behavioral health care, provider trainings, and health and wellness education materials for service users. The team is working with leaders at each location to train staff and help them promote physical health and wellness. Learning collaboratives give staff opportunities to share their experiences, successes with Behavioral Health Home Plus, and solutions to challenges.

How is the team evaluating this project?

The project team is looking at how clinics are implementing Behavioral Health Homes Plus, including how often healthcare providers are helping service users set wellness goals and following other steps in the guide. Using clinic records, the project team is tracking whether service users’ use of health care changes after their place of care starts using Behavioral Health Home Plus. The project team is also tracking whether service users become more confident in taking care of their health.

How is the team involving patients and others in making sure the findings reach people who can use them?

An individual with lived experience with SMI is part of the project team. Patients, families, and providers are working closely with the study team and helped identify sites, including the types of programs included in this project, that could benefit from Behavioral Health Home Plus. The advisers are also taking part in the learning collaboratives to support the project.

Learn more about PCORI’s Dissemination and Implementation program here.

Related PCORI-funded Research Project

Using Wellness Coaches and Extra Support to Improve the Health and Wellness of Adults with Serious Mental Illness

Project Information

James M. Schuster, MD, MBA
UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care
Utilizing a Learning Collaborative Approach to Support Behavioral Health Home Dissemination

Key Dates

September 2020

Study Registration Information


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Health Conditions

Health Conditions

These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them.

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The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located.

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Last updated: December 28, 2021