This project seeks to understand which behavioral health services primary care physicians currently provide for their clients and how often they do so.
A large percentage of patients experiencing behavioral health issues seek help in emergency rooms and in primary care settings. Most are discharged without receiving behavioral health treatments. Furthermore, roughly half of all care for common psychiatric disorders is provided in primary care settings, and patients are often more open to discussing mental health concerns with their primary care physicians. With an increasing demand for behavioral health care, integration of primary care and behavioral health may be a promising method to increase patient access to quality behavioral health care.
Research has largely focused on the benefits of integration and how to facilitate it, rather than on physicians’ experience with providing behavioral care to patients. This project’s primary directive is to understand the level of preparedness of primary care providers to handle the behavioral health needs of their patients. Findings will be incredibly useful to understand the behavioral health competencies primary care physicians will need further training in to be truly prepared for a future in integrated practice.