Behavioral and mental health risk factors are prevalent among primary care patients and contribute substantially to premature morbidity and mortality and increased health care utilization and costs. Although prior studies have found most adults screen positive for multiple risk factors, limited research has attempted to identify factors that most commonly co-occur, which may guide future interventions. The purpose of this study was to identify subgroups of primary care patients with co-occurring risk factors and to examine sociodemographic characteristics associated with these subgroups. We assessed 12 behavioral health risk factors in a sample of adults (n=1628) receiving care from nine primary care practices across six U.S. states in 2013. Using latent class analysis, we identified four distinct patient subgroups: a 'Mental Health Risk' class (prevalence=14%; low physical activity, high stress, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and sleepiness), a 'Substance Use Risk' class (29%; highest tobacco, drug, alcohol use), a 'Dietary Risk' class (29%; high BMI, poor diet), and a 'Lower Risk' class (27%). Compared to the Lower Risk class, patients in the Mental Health Risk class were younger and less likely to be Latino/Hispanic, married, college educated, or employed. Patients in the Substance Use class tended to be younger, male, African American, unmarried, and less educated. African Americans were over 7 times more likely to be in the Dietary Risk versus Lower Risk class (OR 7.7, 95% CI 4.0-14.8). Given the heavy burden of behavioral health issues in primary care, efficiently addressing co-occurring risk factors in this setting is critical.
Keywords: Behavioral health; Latent class analysis; Multiple risk factors; Primary care.
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