Behavioral Medicine Interventions for Adult Primary Care Settings: A Review

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Abstract

Introduction: Health care organizations are embracing integrated primary care (IPC), in which mental health and behavioral health are addressed as part of routine care within primary care settings. Behavioral medicine concerns, which include health behavior change and coping with medical conditions, are common in primary care populations. Although there are evidence-based behavioral interventions that target a variety of behavioral medicine concerns, integrated behavioral health providers need interventions that are sufficiently brief (i.e., ≤6 appointments) to be compatible with IPC. Method: We conducted a literature review of published studies examining behavioral interventions that target prevalent behavioral medicine concerns and can feasibly be employed by IPC providers in adult primary care settings. Results: A total of 67 published articles representing 63 original studies met eligibility criteria. We extracted data on the behavioral interventions employed, results comparing the active intervention to a comparison group, general fit with IPC, and methodological quality. The vast majority of studies examined brief interventions targeting sleep difficulties and physical activity. The most commonly employed interventions were derived from cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. Outcomes were generally statistically significantly in favor of the active intervention relative to comparison, with highly variable methodological quality ratings (range = 0–5; M = 2.0). Discussion: Results are discussed in relation to the need for further evidence for brief behavioral interventions targeting other behavioral medicine concerns beyond sleep and physical activity, as well as for more specificity regarding the compatibility of such interventions with IPC practice.

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