Background: The effectiveness of interventions for people with severe mental illness delivered by informal community care providers in low and lower middle-income countries is not known. The aim was to conduct a systematic review of the impact of community-based interventions implemented by the informal sector for people with severe mental illness in these settings. Methods: Five electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) were searched for English-language publications using both keywords and MeSH terms. All study designs were included. Results: Five papers, reporting data from five studies conducted in four low and lower middle-income countries in 2017, met the inclusion criteria for the review. Of the five included studies, three had a before and after design, one was a randomized controlled trial, and one a qualitative investigation. Most interventions with a low-moderate quality of evidence used informal community care providers to deliver either self-help groups, traditional healing treatments, and/or a rehabilitation program. The investigators reported data about improvements in the outcomes of intervention participants (psychosocial functioning, psychotic symptoms, and social inclusion) and positive impacts on their families (family’s knowledge and skills of mental illness management, caregiving burden, social exclusion/stigma against people with severe mental illness, and financial burden). Cost-effectiveness of the intervention (in one study) found that it had a higher financial cost but greater effectiveness than the usual standard of care. Conclusion: Although only a small number of studies were identified, the review provides promising evidence of the professionally developed interventions for people with severe mental illness, delivered by the informal community workforce in low and lower middle-income settings. Training and supportive supervision for informal community care providers are crucial components of effective interventions.
- Informal community care providers
- low and lower middle-income countries
- severe mental illness
- systematic review