Using Geospatial Research Methods to Examine Resource Accessibility and Availability as it Relates to Community Participation of Individuals with Serious Mental Illnessesedit
Greater community participation among individuals with serious mental illnesses is associated with better psychosocial and health outcomes. Typically, studies examining community participation have utilized self-report measures and been conducted in limited settings. The introduction of methodological advances to examining community participation of individuals with serious mental illnesses has the potential to advance the science of community mental health research and invigorate the work of community psychologists in this area. This study employed an innovative geospatial approach to examine the relationship between community participation and resource accessibility (i.e., proximity) and availability (i.e., concentration) among 294 individuals utilizing community mental health services throughout the United States. Findings suggest small but significant associations between community participation and the accessibility and availability of resources needed for participation. Furthermore, findings demonstrate the importance of car access for individuals residing in both urban and non-urban settings. The methods and results presented in this study have implications for community mental health research and services and provide an illustration of ways that geospatial methodologies can be used to investigate environmental factors that impact community inclusion and participation of individuals with serious mental illnesses.