Milestone: blog from CORC member Olle Lindevall

For the last couple of years I have spent about half my work time building a quality register for specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Sweden to support service development and improvement, to support monitoring of quality and also to map patients, process and practice across the country.

This work is still in it's early stages, but from this year we are beginning to gather real momentum as three of Sweden's regions (together covering almost a third of the population) are now submitting data an all new patients, and in a couple of years we will be able to have good, national coverage.

One of the major challenges ahead is finding ways to promote and support patient-reported routine outcome measures, which at this time is not very frequent.

In conversations with colleagues in the UK, I often encounter envy about Swedish CAMHS, which is perceived as rich and resourceful. I assume we are very well funded compared to colleagues in most countries (with the possible exception of Norway...), but coming to the UK there is something that really makes me envious.

In Sweden we have nothing like CORC and EBPU, where experience and knowledge on the collection and use of real-life service outcomes has been accumulated within a group of talented and devoted people for more than ten years. Thanks to this perseverance, we are now regularly blessed with the publication of research articles with real relevance for everyday service development work exploring a variety of important subjects that have little or no career-building value in mainstream academia. I am thinking of subjects such as clinicians' attitudes to using outcomes, exploring different methods for analysing and presenting real-world outcome data, understanding service-level variation, reviewing the knowledge base on the use of PREM data for service improvement qualitative research on goal formulations and so on, and so on.

And in a way, many of these threads came together in the recent Child- and Parent-reported Outcomes and Experiences from Child and Young Person's Mental Health Services 2011-2015 report, which was released before Christmas and just recently appeared in its print edition.

Reading this report really makes me happy. Why, you may ask? I'll try to explain.

I have been working for fifteen years in the field of making real-life process and outcome data useful for CAMHS in Stockholm, Sweden, and I have never before read such a balanced and thorough compilation of real-life service outcomes. 

Working with real-life data, we are always struggling with multiple issues concerning quality, completeness, accuracy, validity and relevance of the data available. The authors of this report walk us through possibilities and pitfalls in the data meticulously, and report the steps in this process with clarity and great intellectual honesty.

This report sets and example for the rest of us by taking the use of FUPS data to a new level and it is certainly an important milestone in our field.

To conclude I guess what I really want to say today is: Thank you CORC, for doing what you are doing and I hope you'll keep it up for years to come!

Olle Lindevall, who originally trained as a clinical psychologist, is service evaluation lead for CAMHS in the Stockholm Region and director for the Swedish national quality registry for CAMHS (Q-bup).