"Conversational Advice": A mixed-methods analysis of medical residents' experiences co-managing primary care patients with behavioral health providers

Patient Educ Couns. 2018 Jan;101(1):85-91. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2017.07.014. Epub 2017 Jul 14.


Objective: When integrated behavioral health clinicians (IBHCs) and residents co-manage patients, residents may learn new approaches. We aimed to understand the effect of co-management on residents' behavioral health (BH) management learning.

Methods: Residents completed a web-based survey enquiring: whether co-management included a shared visit and/or face-to-face meeting with an IBHC, whether residents received feedback from the IBHC, and what they learned. Qualitative responses were coded thematically using a constant comparative method.

Results: Among 117 respondents (overall response rate 72%, 117/163), from five residencies recruited from 40 residencies with BH integration, residents were significantly more likely to receive feedback if they had a shared visit with the patient and an IBHC (yes 69% vs. no 33%; adjusted OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.2-7.6). Residents reported three major learning themes: interpersonal communication skills awareness, BH skills awareness, and newly adopted attitudes toward BH. Residents who received feedback were more likely to report themes of interpersonal communication skills awareness (yes 26.6% vs. no 9.4%).

Conclusion: BH integration promotes increased feedback for residents practicing face-to-face co-management with IBHCs, and a positive influence regarding residents' attitudes and perceived skills.

Practical implications: Residency programs can meaningfully improve residents' learning by promoting face-to-face co-management with IBHCs.

Keywords: Behavioral medicine; Cooperative behavior; Graduate medical education; Mental health services; Patient care team; Primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavioral Medicine
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires