Older adults with mental illness can be effectively treated with current psychopharmacology and psychotherapy (DHHS, 2000), but positive treatment outcomes are predicated upon the prevention of dropout from the treatment course. Notwithstanding, retention problems among older clients has received scant research attention, and few studies have investigated the reasons why older adults, especially minority older adults, drop out from their treatment course. The purpose of this study is to gather data on the practitioners’ perspectives on the circumstances and factors that are associated with some of their clients’ dropout from the treatment course by conducting three focus groups with mental health counselors who work with geriatric outpatients. The practitioners will be asked to identify a list of medical comorbidity, social support, economic, provider and service delivery system, and cultural barriers to their clients’ ongoing treatment. Special emphasis will be placed on identifying any perceived racial/ethnic difference in the dropout rates and reasons for dropout. The practitioners of three geriatric outpatient mental health clinics, as listed above, have already agreed to participate in the focus groups.

Faculty Research Award, The University of Texas at Austin