Health Services Research & Development

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Hemming P, Revels JA, Tran AN, Greenblatt LH, Steinhauser KE. Identifying core curricular components for behavioral health training in internal medicine residency: Qualitative interviews with residents, faculty, and behavioral health clinicians. International journal of psychiatry in medicine. 2018 Sep 30; DOI: 10.1177/0091217418802159.
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Abstract: Objective Behavioral health services frequently delivered by primary care providers include care for mental health and substance abuse disorders and assistance with behavioral risk factor reduction. Internal medicine residencies in the United States lack formal expectations regarding training in behavioral health for residents. This qualitative study aimed to determine learners' and teachers' perceptions about appropriate behavioral health curricular components for internal medicine residents. Method Focus groups and interviews were conducted with the following individuals from the Duke Outpatient Clinic: residents with continuity practice (n = 27), advanced practice providers (n = 2), internal medicine attending physicians (n = 4), internal medicine/psychiatry attending physicians (n = 2), and behavioral health clinicians (n = 4). A focus group leader asked regarding residents' successes and challenges in managing behavioral health issues and about specific learning components considered necessary to understand and manage these behavioral health conditions. Transcripts were coded using an editing analysis style to identify central themes and concordance/discordance between groups. Results Regarding mental health management (Theme 1), residents emphasized a need for better care coordination with specialty mental health, while attendings and behavioral health clinicians gave priority to residents' skills in primary management of mental health. Residents, attendings, and behavioral health clinicians all emphasized advanced interviewing skills (Theme 2) with subthemes: eliciting the patient's perspective, managing time in encounters, improving patients' understanding, and patient counseling. Conclusions Internal medicine residents, attendings, and behavioral health clinicians may differ significantly in their perceptions of primary care's role in mental health care. Future internal medicine behavioral health curricula should specifically address these attitudinal differences. Curricula should also emphasize interview skills training as an essential component of behavioral health learning.