Thinking families: A study of the characteristics of the workforce that delivers family-focussed practice

Melinda Goodyear, Darryl Maybery, Andrea Reupert, Rebecca Allchin, Cait Fraser, Sabin Fernbacher, Rose Cuff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Parenting with mental illness is not uncommon and is often associated with a range of challenges for parents, children, and the family unit. Family-focussed practice involves the provision of services to the wider family system, including children. While family-focussed practice is important to consumers and their families, adult mental health practitioners do not routinely discuss parenting or children with their clients, nor work closely with the whole family. In the present study, we aimed to examine the characteristics of practitioners from Australian adult mental health services associated with family-focussed practices. Characteristics included sex, years of experience, location, and previous training in child and family-focussed practice. A total of 307 adult mental health practitioners from Victoria, Australia, responded to the Family Focused Mental Health Practice Questionnaire and a series of demographic items. The results indicated that particular practitioner characteristics predicted the delivery of family-focussed practice. Practitioner experience, sex, working in a rural location, and previous family- or child-related training were found to be important in the provision of family-focussed practice. More experienced, female, rurally-located, and well-trained practitioners undertake most family-focussed practice. These results suggest that training in family-focussed practice needs to be promoted, with considerations made for differing needs according to the characteristics of the adult mental health practitioner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-248
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • family-focussed practice
  • mental illness
  • parenting, workforce

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