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Enhancing Implementation of Measurement-Based Mental Health Care in Primary Care: A Mixed-Methods Study.

Wray LO, Oslin DW, Leong SH, Pitcock JA, Tauriello S, Drummond KL, Ritchie MJ. Enhancing Implementation of Measurement-Based Mental Health Care in Primary Care: A Mixed-Methods Study. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2023 Jul 1; 74(7):746-755.

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OBJECTIVE: The complex practice of measurement-based care (MBC) for mental health conditions has proven challenging to implement. This study aimed to evaluate an intensive strategy to implement MBC in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Primary Care Mental Health Integration clinics. METHODS: Ten paired sites were randomly assigned to receive national MBC resources alone or with an intensive implementation strategy (external facilitation plus quality improvement teams) between May 2018 and June 2020. The intervention occurred over 12-18 months; two site pairs completed participation before the COVID-19 pandemic. Using the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance) framework, the authors conducted qualitative interviews and used administrative data to evaluate the implementation, adoption, reach, and effectiveness of MBC. RESULTS: All sites improved during the study, suggesting the effectiveness of the VA's national MBC initiative. Sites with facilitation improved more than comparison sites in implementation, adoption, and reach of MBC. The effectiveness of MBC (i.e., clinician responsiveness to high patient-reported outcome measure [PROM] scores) was demonstrated at all sites both before and after facilitation. After the COVID-19 pandemic began, facilitation sites maintained or improved on their implementation gains, whereas comparison sites uniformly reported decreased emphasis on MBC. CONCLUSIONS: Implementation facilitation resulted in greater gains in outcomes of interest and helped sites retain focus on MBC implementation. Regardless of study condition, clinicians were responsive to elevated PROM scores, but MBC had a larger impact on care at facilitation sites because of increased uptake. Multiple technological and contextual challenges remain, but MBC holds promise for improving routine mental health care.

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