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Barry CN, Abraham KM, Weaver KR, Bowersox NW. Innovating team-based outpatient mental health care in the Veterans Health Administration: Staff-perceived benefits and challenges to pilot implementation of the Behavioral Health Interdisciplinary Program (BHIP). Psychological Services. 2016 May 1; 13(2):148-55.
In the past decade, the demand for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) mental health care has increased rapidly. In response to the increased demand, the VHA developed the Behavioral Health Interdisciplinary Program (BHIP) team model as an innovative approach to transform VHA general outpatient mental health delivery. The present formative evaluation gathered information about pilot implementation of BHIP to understand the struggles and successes that staff experienced during facility transitions to the BHIP model. Using a purposive, nonrandom sampling approach, we conducted 1-on-1, semistructured interviews with 37 licensed and nonlicensed clinical providers and 13 clerical support staff assigned to BHIP teams in 21 facilities across the VHA. Interviews revealed that having actively involved facility mental health leaders, obtaining adequate staffing for teams to meet the requirements of the BHIP model, creating clear descriptions and expectations for team member roles within the BHIP framework, and allocating designated time for BHIP team meetings challenged many VHA sites but are crucial for successful BHIP implementation. Despite the challenges, staff reported that the transition to BHIP improved team work and improved patient care. Staff specifically highlighted the potential for the BHIP model to improve staff working relationships and enhance communication, collaboration, morale, and veteran treatment consistency. Future evaluations of the BHIP implementation process and BHIP team functioning focusing on patient outcomes, organizational outcomes, and staff functioning are recommended for fully understanding effects of transitioning to the BHIP model within VHA general mental health clinics and to identify best practices and areas for improvement. (PsycINFO Database Record