Objective: Training in communication can change clinician behaviors, but brief training may function by altering attitudes rather than teaching new skills. We used data from a trial of mental health training for office-based primary care to determine indicators of uptake that predicted parent and child outcomes.
Methods: Clinicians (n=50) were randomized to be controls or receive training. Uptake was determined comparing pre- and post-training visits with standardized patients (SPs) coded for skills and patient centeredness. Clinical outcomes were assessed by recruiting and following 403 children/youth ages 5-16 making visits to participants. At 6 months, change in mental health was assessed by parent and youth reports using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
Results: Trained clinicians used more agenda setting, time, and anger management skills than controls and showed increased patient centeredness toward SP parents, but not adolescents. Increased patient-centeredness toward parents predicted improvement in child/youth symptoms and functioning (rated by parents), and improvement in youth-rated symptoms. Increased skills alone were not associated with improvement, but patients of clinicians above the mean for both skill and patient-centeredness change improved most.
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