A novel continuum-based framework for translating behavioral health integration to primary care settings

Transl Behav Med. 2020 Aug 7;10(3):580-589. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibz142.

Abstract

Although evidence-based behavioral health integration models have been demonstrated to work well when implemented properly, primary care practices need practical guidance on the steps they can take to build behavioral health integration capacities. This is especially true for practice settings with fewer resources. This study is a pilot field test of a framework continuum composed of core components of behavioral health integration that can be used to translate the implementation of behavioral health into diverse clinical settings guided by a practice's priorities and available resources. This framework, in combination with technical assistance by the study team, was piloted in 11 small primary care sites (defined as ≤5 primary care providers) throughout New York State. Surveys were collected at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. Informal check-in calls and site visits using qualitative semistructured individual and group interviews were conducted with 10 of the 11 sites. A mixed-methods approach was used to incorporate the survey data and qualitative thematic analysis. All practices advanced at least one level of behavioral health integration along various components of the framework. These advances included implementing depression screening, standardizing workflows for positive screens, integrating patient tracking tools for follow-up behavioral health visits, incorporating warm hand-offs to on-site or off-site behavioral health providers, and formalized external referrals using collaborative agreements. Practices reported they had overall positive experiences using the framework and offered feedback for how to improve future iterations. The framework continuum, in combination with technical assistance, was shown to be useful for primary care practices to advance integrated behavioral health care based on their priorities and resource availability. The results combined with feedback from the practices have yielded a revised "Framework 2.0" that includes a new organization as well as the addition of a "Sustainability" domain.

Keywords: Behavioral health; Integrated care; Integration framework; Primary care; Technical assistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Referral and Consultation*