Engaging High-Need Patients in Intensive Outpatient Programs: A Qualitative Synthesis of Engagement Strategies

Donna M. Zulman
Colin W. O'Brien
Cindie Slightam
Jessica Y. Breland
David Krauth
Andrea L. Nevedal
Journal Article
August 2018

This resource identifies features of intensive outpatient programs that increase patient engagement.

  • Program leaders and clinicians from 12 intensive outpatient programs responded to a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews about common barriers to patient engagement and strategies employed to address these challenges.
  • The most common barriers included physical symptoms/limitations, mental illness, care fragmentation, lack of social support, and financial insecurity.
  • Patient engagement strategies included services to support communication, activities to foster patient trust and relationships with program staff, and counseling to build problem-solving capabilities.
  • Program features that enhanced engagement included multidisciplinary teams with diverse skills and personalities to facilitate relationship building; sufficient staffing and resources; and a philosophy that permitted flexibility and patient-centeredness.
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Population Addressed
Adults Under 65 with Disabilities
People with Advanced Illness
Frail Older Adults
People with Multiple Chronic Conditions
People with Behavioral Health and Social Needs
Key Questions Answered
  • What are common barriers to patient engagement in intensive outpatient programs for individuals with complex needs?
  • What strategies do these programs use to increase patient engagement?
Level of Evidence
What does this mean?