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Jaspreet Shahi, Jen Lowry, Ph.D., Jeffrey Lating, Ph.D., Matthew Kirkhart, Ph.D.

Mental Health Training and Practice Experiences of Primary Care Physicians in the United States

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Mental health is a prevalent, consequential, and costly burden shouldered by a large proportion of the population in the United States (APA, 2013; Kessler at al., 2005; Kessler, Chiu, et al., 2005; Roehrig, 2016; WHO, 2017; WHO, 2018b). As mental health needs continue to grow, so too does the need for mental health care (AAMC, 2019; DeAngelis, 2021; Kalter, 2019; Parker-Pope et al., 2021; Scutti, 2019; Weiner, 2018). In seeking mental health care, the general population has demonstrated a preference for seeking care from primary care physicians, regardless of age, gender, educational attainment, and race, among other demographic factors (Angermeyer et al., 1999; Doherty & Karalova-O’Doherty, 2010; Mackenzie et al., 2006; Mickus et al., 2000; Narrow et al., 2000; Wun et al., 2011).

Existing literature illustrates there is a dearth of specialized providers, insufficient support for primary care physicians through mental health consultation and referral services, and that primary care physicians have a long-standing history of inadequate diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders despite successful completion of a behavioral health curriculum and psychiatric rotations (Angermeyer et al., 1999; Higgins, 1994; Jones et al., 1987; Mackenzie et al., 2006; Marrast et al., 2016; Mickus et al., 2000). This study will explore the perceptions of primary care providers (specializing in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics) and psychiatrists regarding the adequacy of their mental health training and ability to fulfill their roles as mental health care providers.


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