Primary Care Medical Provider Attitudes Regarding Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine in Integrated and Non-integrated Primary Care Practice Settings

  • Abbie O. BeachamEmail author
  • Andrew Herbst
  • Timothy Streitwieser
  • Elizabeth Scheu
  • William J. Sieber


Primary care medical providers (PCPs) have become de facto providers of services for the management of both mental and chronic illnesses. Although some reports suggest that PCPs favor having Behavioral Health colleagues provide behavioral health services in primary care, others demonstrate this view is necessarily not universal. We examined attitudes regarding behavioral health services among PCPs in practices that offer such services via onsite behavioral health providers (n = 31) and those that do not (n = 62). We compared referral rates and perceived need for and helpfulness of behavioral health colleagues in treating mental health/behavioral medicine issues. In both samples, perceived need was variable (5–100%), as were PCPs’ views of their own competence in mental health/behavioral medicine diagnosis and treatment. Interestingly, neither sample rated perceived access to behavioral health providers exceptionally high. Referral rates and views about the helpfulness of behavioral health services, except in relation to depression and anxiety, were lower than expected. These results suggest a need for increased collaboration with and education of PCPs about the roles and skills of behavioral health professionals.


Integrated primary care Behavioral health Physician Attitudes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abbie O. Beacham
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew Herbst
    • 1
  • Timothy Streitwieser
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Scheu
    • 3
  • William J. Sieber
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Colorado DenverDenverUSA
  2. 2.Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical CenterKansas CityUSA
  3. 3.Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical CenterLouisvilleUSA
  4. 4.University of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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