Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 441-445

First online:

Primary Care Prescribing Psychologists in the Indian Health Service

  • Earl SutherlandJr.Affiliated withCrow/N. Cheyenne Hospital
  • , Steven R. TulkinAffiliated withCalifornia School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University Email author 

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Some of the largest health care disparities are those related to services for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), who show significantly greater prevalence for diabetes, coronary heart disease, smoking, obesity, heavy alcohol use, depression, and PTSD than the general population. Given the recognition of the behavioral components of all of these conditions, the Indian Health Service, the federal agency responsible for providing comprehensive health care services to AI/ANs, has been focusing on increasing the integration of behavior health and primary care. One innovation has been to hire prescribing psychologists on primary care teams. This paper describes the role of a prescribing psychologist on three treatment teams at an IHS facility in Montana. Prescribing psychologists in the Indian Health Service can serve as valuable members of comprehensive care teams, providing exceptional wrap-around care for some of our most vulnerable and underserved citizens. This model could be an example of how a prescribing psychologist could contribute to primary care clinics in a variety of other settings.


Prescribing psychologist Primary care Co-morbidities Indian Health Service Behavioral health Integrated care