Identification and management of behavioral/mental health problems in primary care pediatrics: perceived strengths, challenges, and new delivery models

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2012 Oct;51(10):978-82. doi: 10.1177/0009922812441667. Epub 2012 Apr 18.


This study describes the experiences of and barriers for pediatricians in Kentucky in providing behavioral/mental health (B-MH) services in primary care settings. These data will serve as a foundation for improving service delivery. An online survey was completed by 70 pediatricians. Descriptive data are presented. More than 90% of the respondents said that they saw at least one patient a month with 1 of 10 specific B-MH diagnoses. Physicians' comfort with diagnosing and treating disorders varied widely by diagnosis, age-group, and drug classification. Major barriers to providing optimal care were inaccessibility of mental health professionals for consultation and referral, lack of communication, and lack of knowledge. Respondents were more likely to favor consultation and co-location models over an integration model of care delivery. Overall, the authors found that pediatricians are dealing with patients with B-MH problems for which they may not have been adequately trained. Communication and collaboration needs were identified.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Competence
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kentucky
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Models, Organizational
  • Pediatrics / organization & administration*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Referral and Consultation