Adoption, reach, implementation, and maintenance of a behavioral and mental health assessment in primary care

Ann Fam Med. Nov-Dec 2014;12(6):525-33. doi: 10.1370/afm.1710.


Purpose: Guidelines recommend screening patients for unhealthy behaviors and mental health concerns. Health risk assessments can systematically identify patient needs and trigger care. This study seeks to evaluate whether primary care practices can routinely implement such assessments into routine care.

Methods: As part of a cluster-randomized pragmatic trial, 9 diverse primary care practices implemented My Own Health Report (MOHR)-an electronic or paper-based health behavior and mental health assessment and feedback system paired with counseling and goal setting. We observed how practices integrated MOHR into their workflows, what additional practice staff time it required, and what percentage of patients completed a MOHR assessment (Reach).

Results: Most practices approached (60%) agreed to adopt MOHR. How they implemented MOHR depended on practice resources, informatics capacity, and patient characteristics. Three practices mailed patients invitations to complete MOHR on the Web, 1 called patients and completed MOHR over the telephone, 1 had patients complete MOHR on paper in the office, and 4 had staff help patients complete MOHR on the Web in the office. Overall, 3,591 patients were approached and 1,782 completed MOHR (Reach = 49.6%). Reach varied by implementation strategy with higher reach when MOHR was completed by staff than by patients (71.2% vs 30.2%, P <.001). No practices were able to sustain the complete MOHR assessment without adaptations after study completion. Fielding MOHR increased staff and clinician time an average of 28 minutes per visit.

Conclusions: Primary care practices can implement health behavior and mental health assessments, but counseling patients effectively requires effort. Practices will need more support to implement and sustain assessments.

Trial registration: NCT01825746.

Keywords: health behavior; health risk appraisal; mental health; patient reported measures; pragmatic clinical trial; primary health care.

Publication types

  • Pragmatic Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Interviews as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Health*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / organization & administration
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / statistics & numerical data

Associated data