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Interdisciplinary Team Perspectives on Mental Health Care in VA Home-Based Primary Care: A Qualitative Study.

Gillespie SM, Manheim C, Gilman C, Karuza J, Olsan TH, Edwards ST, Levy CR, Haverhals L. Interdisciplinary Team Perspectives on Mental Health Care in VA Home-Based Primary Care: A Qualitative Study. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. 2019 Feb 1; 27(2):128-137.

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OBJECTIVES: This qualitative study describes the structure and processes of providing care to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) enrollees with mental health care needs; explains the role of the HBPC psychologist; and describes how mental health treatment is integrated into care from the perspective of HBPC team members. DESIGN: HBPC programs were selected for in-person site visits based on initial surveys and low hospitalization rates. SETTING: Programs varied in setting, geographic locations, and primary care model. PARTICIPANTS: Eight site visits were completed. During visits, key informants including HBPC program directors, medical directors, team members, and other key staff involved with the HBPC program participated in semi-structured individual and group interviews. MEASUREMENTS: Recorded interviews, focus groups, and field observation notes. RESULTS: Qualitative thematic content analysis revealed four themes: 1) HBPC Veterans have not only complex physical needs but also co-occurring mental health needs; 2) the multi-faceted role of psychologists on HBPC teams, that includes providing care for Veterans and support for colleagues; 3) collaboration between medical and mental health providers as a means of caring for HBPC Veterans with mental health needs; and 4) gaps in providing mental health care on HBPC teams, primarily related to a lack of team psychiatrists and/or need for specialized medication management for psychiatric illness. CONCLUSIONS: Mental health providers are essential to HBPC teams. Given the significant mental health care needs of HBPC enrollees and the roles of HBPC mental health providers, HBPC teams should integrate both psychologists and consulting psychiatrists.

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