Perspectives on Monitoring Youth with Ongoing Mental Health Problems in Primary Health Care: Family Physicians Are “Out of the Loop”
Children’s mental health (CMH) problems often recur. Following specialized mental health treatment, youth may require monitoring and follow-up. For these youth, primary health care is highly relevant, as family physicians (FPs) are the only professionals who follow patients across the lifespan. The current study gained multiple perspectives about (1) the role of FPs in caring for youth with ongoing/recurring CMH problems and (2) incorporating routine mental health monitoring into primary health care. A total of 33 interviews were conducted, including 10 youth (aged 12–15) receiving CMH care, 10 parents, 10 CMH providers, and 3 FPs. Using grounded theory methodology, a theme of FPs being “out of the loop” or not involved in their patient’s CMH care emerged. Families perceived a focus on the medical model by their FPs and believed FPs lacked mental health expertise. Findings indicate a need for improved collaboration between CMH providers and FPs in caring for youth with ongoing CMH problems.
We would like to thank all of the families and providers that participated in this study for their time and willingness to take part in this research.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The study was approved by the Research Ethics Board at both CMH agencies and at The University of Western Ontario.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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