Behavioral health integration: Transforming patient care, medical resident education, and physician effectiveness

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2015;50(1):36-49. doi: 10.1177/0091217415592357. Epub 2015 Jul 3.


Integrating behavioral health care into the family medicine residency has had a dramatic impact on patient care, resident training, and physician effectiveness. With a cursory glance, it may seem that integrated behavioral health providers spend their days exclusively having 30-min office visits with patients. A full exploration, however, reveals that well-integrated behavioral health offers not only brief and effective visits with patients but also increased collaboration, better patient comanagement, and multiple opportunities for resident learning. Behavioral health integration transforms the way in which medical providers at all levels of training work, teach, and conceptualize their future practice. In an internal survey of 33 medical providers in an integrated family medicine residency, 97% of respondents report they value behavioral health integration to such a degree that they are more likely to accept a job in a setting that offers integrated behavioral health.

Keywords: Integrated behavioral health; behavioral health integration; family medicine; family medicine residency; patient-centered medical home; primary care; resident education.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Psychiatry / education*