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Real world implementation and outcomes of health behavior and mental health assessment
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    Assessing patient-reported health behaviors is a critical first step to prioritizing prevention in primary care. We assessed the feasibility of point-of-care behavioral health assessment in nine diverse primary care practices, including four federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs), four Practice-based Research Network (PBRN) practices, and a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) practice.


    In this prospective mixed-methods study, practices were asked to integrate a standardized paper-based health behavior and mental health assessment into their workflow for 50 or more patients. We used three data sources to examine the implementation process: 1) patient responses to the health assessment, 2) patient feedback surveys about how assessments were used during encounters, and 3) post-implementation interviews.


    Most (71%) non-urgent patients visiting the participating practices during the implementation period completed the health assessment, but reach varied by practice (range: 59-88%). Unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, and stress were the most common patient problems with similar frequencies observed across practices. The median number of “positive screens” per patient was similar across FQHCs (3.7-positives, SD=1.8), PBRN practices (3.8-positives, SD=1.9), and the VA clinic (4.1-positives, SD=2.0). Primary care clinicians discussed assessment results with patients about half of the time (54%), with considerable between practice variation (range: 13%-66% with lowest use among FQHC clinicians). Although clinicians were interested in routinely implementing assessments, many reported not feeling confident of having resources or support to address all patients’ behavioral health needs.


    Primary care practices will need to revamp their patient-reported data collection processes in order to integrate routine health behavior assessments. Implementation support will be required if health assessments are to be actively used as part of routine primary care.

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    U48DP001946/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
    UL1 TR000124/TR/NCATS NIH HHS/United States
    UL1TR000124/TR/NCATS NIH HHS/United States
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