JournalChild: care, health and development
BACKGROUND: In the UK and internationally, there have been increasing calls for interagency collaboration across mental health services for children and young people. However, it is not clear whether such practices do, indeed, have a positive impact and, if so, what factors facilitate and inhibit collaboration across agencies.
METHODS: Electronic searches were carried out on seven key computerized bibliographic databases. For inclusion in the review, studies needed to report on close working by two or more services that provided mental health support for children and/or young people and that had some systematic collection of qualitative and/or quantitative data. Outcomes were analysed narratively, and facilitating and inhibiting factors were examined using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: A final sample of 33 studies was identified from 4136 initial records. Outcomes were mixed, with some findings indicating that interagency collaboration was associated with greater service use and equity of service provision, but other suggesting negative outcomes on service use and quality. However, interagency collaboration was perceived as helpful and important by both service users and professionals, and collaborative initiatives were evaluated positively. The factors most commonly identified as facilitating interagency collaboration were good interagency communication, joint trainings, good understandings across agencies, mutual valuing across agencies, senior management support, protocols on interagency collaboration and a named link person. The most commonly perceived barriers to interagency collaboration were inadequate resourcing, poor interagency communication, lack of valuing across agencies, differing perspectives, poor understandings across agencies and confidentiality issues.
CONCLUSIONS: The results are consistent with findings from previous reviews of interagency collaboration across adult and child services: there were some indications of benefit; and facilitating and inhibiting factors involved working relationships and multi-agency processes, resources and management. The identification of these factors has implications for practitioners, service managers, trainers, commissioners and researchers.
Epistemonikos ID: beac5865f2e9378ba7928f9dd1ed31904e4da30c