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BMC Psychiatry. 2019 Oct 15;19(1):299. doi: 10.1186/s12888-019-2294-1.

Mixed method evaluation of Relational Team Development (RELATED) to improve team-based care for complex patients with mental illness in primary care.

Author information

Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Academic Office 1; Mailstop B180; 12631 East 17th Ave., Aurora, CO, 80045, USA.
Lowry Family Health Center, Denver Health, Denver, CO, USA.
Adult and Child Consortium for Health Outcomes Research and Delivery Science (ACCORDS), University of Colorado, Aurora, CO, USA.
Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Academic Office 1; Mailstop B180; 12631 East 17th Ave., Aurora, CO, 80045, USA.
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle, WA, USA.
Department of Family Medicine, University of Colorado, Aurora, USA.
Kaiser Permanente Colorado Institute for Health Research, Aurora, CO, USA.
Department of Family Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA.



Patients with mental illness are frequently treated in primary care, where Primary Care Providers (PCPs) report feeling ill-equipped to manage their care. Team-based models of care improve outcomes for patients with mental illness, but multiple barriers limit adoption. Barriers include practical issues and psychosocial factors associated with the reorganization of care. Practice facilitation can improve implementation, but does not directly address the psychosocial factors or gaps in PCP skills in managing mental illness. To address these gaps, we developed Relational Team Development (RELATED).


RELATED is an implementation strategy combining practice facilitation and psychology clinical supervision methodologies to improve implementation of team-based care. It includes PCP-level clinical coaching and a team-level practice change activity. We performed a preliminary assessment of RELATED with a convergent parallel mixed method study in 2 primary care clinics in an urban Federally Qualified Health Center in Southwest, USA, 2017-2018. Study participants included PCPs, clinic staff, and patient representatives. Clinic staff and patients were recruited for the practice change activity only. Primary outcomes were feasibility and acceptability. Feasibility was assessed as ease of recruitment and implementation. Acceptability was measured in surveys of PCPs and staff and focus groups. We conducted semi-structured focus groups with 3 participant groups in each clinic: PCPs; staff and patients; and leadership. Secondary outcomes were change in pre- post- intervention PCP self-efficacy in mental illness management and team-based care. We conducted qualitative observations to better understand clinic climate.


We recruited 18 PCPs, 17 staff members, and 3 patient representatives. We ended recruitment early due to over recruitment. Both clinics developed and implemented practice change activities. The mean acceptability score was 3.7 (SD=0.3) on a 4-point Likert scale. PCPs had a statistically significant increase in their mental illness management self-efficacy [change = 0.9, p-value= <.01]. Focus group comments were largely positive, with PCPs requesting additional coaching.


RELATED was feasible and highly acceptable. It led to positive changes in PCP self-efficacy in Mental Illness Management. If confirmed as an effective implementation strategy, RELATED has the potential to significantly impact implementation of evidence-based interventions for patients with mental illness in primary care.


Implementation Science; Mental Disorders; Multiple Chronic Conditions

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