The CORE Service Improvement Programme for mental health crisis resolution teams: study protocol for a cluster-randomised controlled trial

Brynmor LLoyd Evans, Kate Fullarton, Danielle Lamb, Elaine Johnston, Steve Onyett, David Osborn, Gareth Ambler, Louise Marston, Rachael Hunter, Oliver Mason, Claire Henderson, Nicky Goater, Sarah A Sullivan, Kathleen Kelly, Richard Gray, Fiona Nolan, Stephen Pilling, Gary Bond, Sonia Johnson

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As an alternative to hospital admission, crisis resolution teams (CRTs) provide intensive home treatment to people experiencing mental health crises. Trial evidence supports the effectiveness of the CRT model, but research suggests that the anticipated reductions in inpatient admissions and increased user satisfaction with acute care have been less than hoped for following the scaling up of CRTs nationally in England, as mandated by the National Health Service (NHS) Plan in 2000. The organisation and service delivery of the CRTs vary substantially. This may reflect the lack of a fully specified CRT model and the resources to enhance team model fidelity and to improve service quality. We will evaluate the impact of a CRT service improvement programme over a 1-year period on the service users’ experiences of care, service use, staff well-being, and team model fidelity.


Twenty-five CRTs from eight NHS Trusts across England will be recruited to this cluster-randomised trial: 15 CRTs will be randomised to receive the service improvement programme over a 1-year period, and ten CRTs will not receive the programme. Data will be collected from 15 service users and all clinical staff from each participating CRT at baseline and at the end of the intervention. Service use data will be collected from the services’ electronic records systems for two 6-month periods: the period preceding and the period during months 7-12 of the intervention. The study’s primary outcome is service user satisfaction with CRT care, measured using a client satisfaction questionnaire. Secondary outcomes include the following: perceived continuity of care, hospital admission rates and bed use, rates of readmission to acute care following CRT support, staff morale, job satisfaction, and general health. The adherence of the services to a model of best practice will be assessed at baseline and follow-up. Outcomes will be compared between the intervention and control teams, adjusting for baseline differences and participant characteristics using linear random effects modelling. Qualitative investigations with participating CRT managers and staff and programme facilitators will explore the experiences of the service improvement programme.


Our trial will show whether a theoretically underpinned and clearly defined package of resources are effective in supporting service improvement and improving outcomes for mental health crisis resolution teams.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN47185233

Original languageEnglish
Article number158
Number of pages12
Issue number158
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2016


  • Crisis resolution teams
  • Acute care
  • Service improvement
  • Randomised controlled trial

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