Journal Articles

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International Journal of Integrated Care


INTRODUCTION: Despite evidence that people with serious mental illness benefit from receiving primary care within mental health care settings, there is little research on this type of integration. The objective of this study was to characterize how providers and patients experienced implementation of primary care into specialty mental health services.

METHODS: During site visits, study team members interviewed staff and conducted focus groups with patients at 10 United States community mental health centres then beginning to integrate primary into their practices. One year later, follow up phone interviews with key centre staff informants validated and updated findings. Data analysis included thematic coding of results from staff interviews and patient focus groups.

RESULTS: Findings included the importance of the scope of primary care services provided on site, given limited alternatives available to patients; rapid scale-up; overcoming challenges in provider recruitment and retention; and adaptations to engage patients as well as to improve communication between mental health and primary care providers.

CONCLUSION: Providers and patients perceived improvements through integrated care. However, the majority of patients were uninsured, and the funding was short term. The long-term viability of integrated care for community mental health centre patients may hinge on adequate, predictable public funding.


integration, reverse integration, colocation, mental health, primary care

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