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Int J Psychiatry Med. 1998;28(4):361-74.

Mental health problems in primary care: a research agenda.

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University of Michigan, Department of Family Medicine, Ann Arbor 48109-0708, USA.



The NAPCRG Task Force on Mental Health Problems was commissioned to explore critical research and policy issues in mental health and to develop a primary care research agenda for review and action by NAPCRG. This "White Paper" presents the key findings and recommendations of the Task Force.


A comprehensive review of the primary care mental health literature, using MEDLINE searches with manual follow up, and personal communications with many active researchers in the field were performed by the authors; Task Force members participated in the editing and refinement of the White Paper in a series of email and face-to-face meetings.


Although primary care researchers have made major contributions to our growing understanding of mental health problems as they exist in the "real world" of primary care, rapid changes in the U.S. health care environment threaten to undo the integration of mental and physical health that is at the heart of primary care. It will be necessary for the primary care leaders in this field to step forward to guide policy-makers, purchasers, and the public as primary care is reengineered for the next generation. Efforts to operationalize episode of care and comorbidity recording with EMR systems, particularly in cooperation with managed care corporations and/or primary care research networks, may represent the most effective strategy for promoting the integration of mental health services into primary care. The most promising area for research in the immediate future may be descriptive studies that capture and explore the clinical epidemiology of common mental health problems as they occur in routine practice.

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