Ethical Matters in Rural Integrated Primary Care Settings

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Integrated primary care is particularly valuable to rural communities. Behavioral health care is often in short supply, and small or close-knit communities can intensify the stigma of seeking specialty mental health in rural settings. These and other barriers result in reduced access to needed behavioral health care. Nonetheless, rural practice of integrated primary care presents unique challenges to practitioners of multiple disciplines, including issues of competence, confidentiality, and dual relationships. This article provides an illustrative vignette to describe ethical issues in the rural practice of integrated primary care. It will review discipline-specific guidance in approaching these challenges and will offer recommendations for addressing disparities in the approaches of various disciplines engaged in the practice of integrated primary care.

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