The Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) Model: An Overview and Operational Definition

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2018 Jun;25(2):109-126. doi: 10.1007/s10880-017-9531-x.


The Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) model is a prominent approach to the integration of behavioral health services into primary care settings. Implementation of the PCBH model has grown over the past two decades, yet research and training efforts have been slowed by inconsistent terminology and lack of a concise, operationalized definition of the model and its key components. This article provides the first concise operationalized definition of the PCBH model, developed from examination of multiple published resources and consultation with nationally recognized PCBH model experts. The definition frames the model as a team-based approach to managing biopsychosocial issues that present in primary care, with the over-arching goal of improving primary care in general. The article provides a description of the key components and strategies used in the model, the rationale for those strategies, a brief comparison of this model to other integration approaches, a focused summary of PCBH model outcomes, and an overview of common challenges to implementing the model.

Keywords: Behavioral health consultation; Integrated care models; Integrated primary care; Patient-Centered Medical Home; Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) model; Primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration*
  • United States