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J Pediatr Psychol. 1991 Aug;16(4):447-61.

Psychology in primary health care: effects of brief targeted therapy on children's medical care utilization.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg 24061-0436.


Evaluated the impact of psychological treatment for 93 children (ages 1-15) with common behavior, toilet, school, and psychosomatic problems. Children and parents, who were members of a health maintenance organization, had 1-6 visits to a primary care-based psychological consultation service. Individualized treatment was guided by problem-specific behavioral protocols. Parent outcome and behavior checklist ratings indicated improvement or resolution for 74% of children and high satisfaction with the psychological service. Children's use of medical services, especially acute primary care visits, was reduced during the year after treatment; a matched comparison group's use was unchanged. Addressing children's unmet mental health needs reduces medical care utilization. A primary health care model of psychological services provides an integrated system for serving the health and mental health needs of children.

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