Implementing Integrated Behavioral Health: Testing Associations Between Shared Clinical Time and Space and Provider Referrals

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2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Behavioral health provider (BHP) availability is widely acknowledged as an important factor in the effectiveness of an integrated care approach within primary care. However, there is little research providing evidence of the impact of BHP availability on physician uptake of integrated behavioral health (IBH) services. Method: This quasiexperimental study examines whether shared clinical time and space with a BHP is associated with providers' number of standard IBH referrals and proportion of warm handoffs within total behavioral health (BH) referrals. Data are from 2 family medicine outpatient clinics with 1 shared, part-time BHP and were gathered across 4 months (2,847 unique patients served) using electronic health record chart review of patients referred for BH services. Results: Results of a Poisson regression indicated greater shared time and space between BHP and providers is significantly associated with a greater number of providers' standard IBH referrals, χ2(df = 1, N = 15) = 13.67, p = .000. Results of general linear modeling indicate greater shared time and space is also associated with a greater proportion of warm handoffs (percentage of total referrals). A 1-unit increase in percentage of schedule overlap was associated with a 110% increase in likelihood of a family medicine provider making a warm handoff, Exp(β) = 2.10, p = .007. Discussion: This exploratory study provides initial evidence to support the notion that shared time and space between BHPs and physicians is an essential component of effective integrated care. Future research is needed to evaluate how shared time and space impact the accessibility, adoption, and effectiveness of the BHP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Integrated behavioral health
  • Interprofessional teams
  • Primary care behavioral health
  • Team-based care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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