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Arch Fam Med. 1997 Jul-Aug;6(4):324-33.

Developing a strategy for managing behavioral health care within the context of primary care.

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Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Although most patients with psychological disorders are diagnosed and treated within the primary care setting, there are few guidelines to help primary care physicians and managed care plan administrators construct programs of behavioral health care that are compatible with the primary care environment. We report the findings from a review of the literature from 1970 to 1996 on factors that predict the use of mental health and substance abuse services with specific reference to primary care. We use a heuristic framework of service use that includes the characteristics of patients, primary care physicians, practice settings, and managed care plans. Recognizing that the factors associated with the use of services center on the primary care practice, we argue that programs of behavioral health care will work best when they are decentralized to account for variations among primary care patients, physicians, and practices; when they are integrated clinically, financially, and administratively within the primary care setting; and when primary care physicians are active leaders in the design and implementation of these services, for clinical and financial reasons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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