Benefits of integrated behavioral health services: The physician perspective

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Families, systems & health : the journal of collaborative family healthcare


INTRODUCTION: There are benefits of integrating a behavioral health specialist in primary care; however, little is known about the physicians' perspectives. The purpose of this study was to explore primary care physicians' beliefs regarding the benefits of integrated care for both patients and themselves.

METHOD: Fifteen senior staff physicians and 78 residents completed surveys regarding their opinions of referring to a psychologist in a patient-centered medical home.

RESULTS: The top reasons that physicians believed their patients followed through with a visit with an integrated psychologist included that they recommended it (79.5%) and that patients can be seen in the same primary care clinic (76.9%). The overwhelming majority of physicians were satisfied with having access to an integrated psychologist (97.4%). Physicians believed that integrated care directly improves patient care (93.8%), is a needed service (90.3%), and helps provide better care to patients (80.9%). In addition, physicians reported that having an integrated psychologist reduces their personal stress level (90.1%).

CONCLUSION: Primary care physicians may be motivated to integrate behavioral health services into their clinics knowing that other physicians believe that it directly and indirectly improves patient care and physician stress.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Behavioral Medicine; Delivery of Health Care, Integrated; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Physicians; Primary Health Care; Referral and Consultation; Surveys and Questionnaires; Workforce

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