Agenda setting in psychiatric consultations: An exploratory study

Richard M. Frankel, Michelle P. Salyers, Kelsey A. Bonfils, Sylwia K. Oles, Marianne S. Matthias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Objective: Patient- or consumer-centeredness has been recognized as a critical component of quality in primary health care, but is only beginning to be recognized and studied in mental health. Among the first opportunities to be consumer-centered is collaboratively producing an agenda of topics to be covered during a clinic visit. Early agenda setting sets the stage for what is to come and can affect the course, direction, and quality of care. The purpose of this work is to study agenda setting practices among 8 prescribers (5 psychiatrists and 3 nurse practitioners) at the beginning of their encounters with 124 consumers diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (56%), bipolar disorder (23%), major depression (15%), and other disorders (6%). Method: We modified an extant agenda-setting rubric by adding behaviors identified by a multidisciplinary team who iteratively reviewed transcripts of the visit openings. Once overall consensus was achieved, two research assistants coded all of the transcripts. Twenty-five transcripts were scored by both raters to establish interrater reliability. Results: We identified 10 essential elements of agenda setting. Almost 10% of visits had no agenda set, and only 1 of 3 encounters had partial or complete elicitation of a single concern. Few additional concerns (4%) were solicited, and no encounter contained more than 6 essential elements. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: Collaborative agenda setting represents a unique opportunity to translate the concept of consumer-centeredness into mental health care. Initial results suggest the rating system is reliable, but the essential elements are not being used in practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatric rehabilitation journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • agenda setting
  • communication
  • consumer-centered care
  • severe mental illness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine(all)

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