Inter-professional simulation training for community mental health teams: findings from a mixed methods study

Publication piece on evaluating an interprofessional mental health training course

Piette, A. E., Attoe, C., Humphreys, R., Cross, S., & Kowalski, C. (2018)


  • Interprofessional working is essential to providing good mental healthcare in community settings. Simulation training is underused in mental health, despite strong support for its improvement of clinical skills, confidence, teamwork, and interprofessional collaboration in other healthcare settings.
  • This paper evaluated the efficacy of a simulation training course for community mental health teams.
  • Knowledge and confidence increased, and emerging themes of inter-professional understanding, attitudes in clinical practice, wellbeing, fidelity in clinical practice and self reflection were highlighted in the feedback.



Community mental health teams (CMHTs) in England are facing mounting pressure as numbers of referrals increase and inpatient psychiatric beds continue to reduce in number. Improved interprofessional working is acknowledged as being important in effectively addressing the increasing needs of the general community mental health team caseload. Promising yet preliminary findings have indicated that interprofessional simulation can be a useful educational tool in mental health.


An interprofessional simulation training course on assessment and team working skills for community mental health professionals was developed and delivered at a time of service reorganisation in South London services, including changes to job roles and responsibilities. Over a 10-month period, 72 healthcare professionals took part in one of nine full-day simulation courses on core skills for community mental health. Course participants were mental health nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, GP trainees, occupational therapists, and managerial staff from mental health teams in South London. Surveys were given out pre and post training to assess change.


This study suggests that interprofessional simulation training can be beneficial for professionals from CMHTs. Quantitative findings found increased knowledge and confidence in core domains of community psychiatry, such as assessment and care planning. Qualitative findings indicated key areas of benefit for participants, such as interprofessional understanding, attitudes in clinical practice, and staff wellbeing, as well as how interprofessional simulation facilitates these outcomes.


Interprofessional simulation has the potential to improve knowledge and confidence in clinical and assessment skills amongst CMHTs. Findings support the increased use of interprofessional education and simulation training generally, in particular, identifying potential beneficial effects on staff wellbeing, burnout, compassion fatigue, and productivity. As such, they represent an important addition to a limited but growing literature base on interprofessional simulation in mental health, which, in itself, is an area meriting further research.