HSR&D Citation Abstract
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Adult Primary Care Physician Visits Increasingly Address Mental Health Concerns.
Rotenstein LS, Edwards ST, Landon BE. Adult Primary Care Physician Visits Increasingly Address Mental Health Concerns. Health affairs (Project Hope). 2023 Feb 1; 42(2):163-171.
A high prevalence of mental health diagnoses in adults alongside ongoing shortages of mental health specialists and expansion of the patient-centered medical home have increased the involvement of primary care clinicians in treating mental health concerns. Using nationally representative serial cross-sectional data from the 2006-18 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys regarding visits to outpatient primary care physicians by patients ages eighteen and older, we sought to characterize temporal trends in primary care visits addressing a mental health concern. Based on a sample of 109,898 visits representing 3,891,233,060 weighted visits, we found that the proportion of visits that addressed mental health concerns increased from 10.7 percent of visits in 2006-07 to 15.9 percent by 2016 and 2018. Black patients were 40 percent less likely than White patients to have a mental health concern addressed during a primary care visit, and Hispanic patients were 40 percent less likely than non-Hispanic patients to have a mental health concern addressed during a primary care visit. These findings emphasize the need for payment and billing approaches (that is, value-based care models and billing codes for integrated behavioral health) as well as organizational designs and supports (that is, colocated therapy or psychiatry providers, availability of e-consultation, and longer visits) that enable primary care physicians to adequately address mental health needs.