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“It’s Like Being a Well-Loved Child”: Reflections From a Collaborative Care Team

Katherine Sanchez, PhD, and Gail Adorno, PhD

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ABSTRACT

Objective: The present case study examines how a collaborative care model for the treatment of depression works with a low-income, uninsured adult population in a primary care setting.

Method: The qualitative interviews were conducted in 2010 at a primary care clinic as part of an evaluation of the Integrated Behavioral Health program, a collaborative care model of identifying and treating mild-to-moderate mental disorders in adults in a primary care setting. A single-case study design of an interdisciplinary team was used: the care manager, the primary care physician, the consulting psychiatrist, and the director of social services. Other units of analysis included clinical outcomes and reports that describe the patient demographics, services offered, staff, and other operational descriptions.

Results: Multiple themes were identified that shed light on how one primary care practice successfully operationalized a collaborative care model, including the tools they used in novel ways, the role of team members, and perceived barriers to sustainability.

Conclusions: The insights captured by this case study allow physicians, mental health practitioners, and administrators a view into key elements of the model as they consider implementation of a collaborative care model in their own settings. It is important to understand how the model operates on a day-to-day basis, with careful consideration of the more subtle aspects of the program such as team functioning and adapting tools to new processes of care to meet the needs of patients in unique contexts. Attention to barriers that still exist, especially regarding workforce and workload, will continue to be critical to organizations attempting integration.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2013;15(6):doi:10.4088/PCC.13m01541

Submitted: June 7, 2013; accepted August 20, 2013.

Published online: November 28, 2013.

Corresponding author: Katherine Sanchez, PhD, School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Arlington, 211 S. Cooper St, Arlington, TX 76019 (KSanchez@uta.edu).