Development and Evaluation of the Cultural Consultation Service

Kirmayer, L.; Groleau, D.; Rousseau, C. (2013)

Cultural Consultation Encountering the Other in Mental Health Care. Kirmayer, L.; Guzder, J.; Rousseau, R. (Eds.)

Springer | 21-45

In this chapter, we describe the development, implementation and evaluation of the cultural consultation service (CCS). We begin with some background on the development of intercultural services in Montreal. The next section describes the rationale for the CCS approach and the steps involved in setting up the service. The third section provides an overview of the cases seen by the service in the first decade of its operation, including sources and reasons for referral, as well as socio-demographic and clinical characteristics. This provides a sense of the portfolio of cases from which vignettes are drawn throughout this book to illustrate key issues in cultural consultation. The remaining sections summarize findings from qualitative process and outcome evaluations of the service. The analysis of cases seen in the CCS and transcultural clinics indicates that access to mental health care varies widely by linguistic and cultural background. In a significant number of cases, language barriers and the cultural complexity of the cases had prevented adequate assessment in conventional mental health care settings. The CCS was able to provide clinical reassessment and redirection of treatment in a substantial proportion of cases and these interventions have been well received by referring clinicians. Although cultural consultations require substantial resources, in terms of specific expertise in cultural psychiatry as well as interpreters and culture brokers, the result of this intensive process is often a change in diagnosis and treatment plan with significant immediate and long-term consequences for patients’ functioning, use of services, as well as clinician satisfaction.