Narrative Review of Provider Behavior in Primary Care Behavioral Health: How Process Data Can Inform Quality Improvement

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Abstract

Objective: Primary care behavioral health (PCBH) is a population-based approach to delivering mental and behavioral health care in the primary care setting. Implementation of the PCBH model varies across practice settings, which can impact how PCBH providers deliver services to patients and in turn may predict a variety of important outcomes. This article aims to characterize PCBH provider engagement in key processes of integrated care as demonstrated in results from empirical studies of real-world clinical practice. Method: For this narrative review of published studies on PCBH provider engagement in processes of care, PubMed and PsycINFO databases were searched from January 1990 through May 2016 to identify relevant articles. Results: Provider adherence to the brief, time-limited treatment model appears suboptimal. Common mental health conditions, such as depression, were often the primary focus of provider attention, with less consistent emphasis on behavioral medicine concerns. Whereas providers regularly conducted qualitative functional assessments with patients, routine use of standardized measures was low. Engagement in interprofessional collaboration with the primary care team was also low, but engagement in behaviors that fostered therapeutic relationships was high. Discussion: This review identified several strengths and weaknesses of typical PCBH provider practices. Results are discussed in relation to their value as areas for future quality improvement initiatives that can improve PCBH service delivery and, ultimately, patient outcomes.

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