Treatment of Anxiety and Depression in Primary Care: Reducing Barriers to Access

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Authors
Kane, Mallory
Issue Date
2024-05
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Poster
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Anxiety , Depression , Mental Health , Referrals
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Abstract
Purpose: The purpose of this quality improvement project was to develop and implement a standardized follow-up plan for all adult patients with anxiety and/or depression who were newly being referred to a counseling center by their primary care provider. Background: The majority of mental health disorders, specifically anxiety and depression, are treated by primary care providers. They identify patients who need referral to mental health specialists. Sample/Setting: The setting was within pod 5 of the family practice department of large semi-rural, multi-tenant medical center in Hudson, Wisconsin. The sample included 4 family practice physicians & two-family nurse practitioners, the medical assistants within pod 5, & Hudson Medical Center’s referral team. Methods: Key outcomes included the percentages of patients receiving handouts on local mental health services, 2-week follow up calls, and clinic notifications from counseling centers. A post-survey assessed the referral team's perception of sustainability. Results: 20 adult patients participated (65% men, 35% women). Ages ranged from 18 to 85 years. Diagnosis: 25% depression, 30% anxiety, 45% both. All patients received mental health service handouts. 40% had follow-up within 2 weeks; 60% after 2 weeks. 40% successfully scheduled outpatient mental health appointments. 37.5% of successful participants had notification letters sent to counseling center. Reasons for declining referrals: lack of time, interest, cost concerns, personal situations. Post-survey themes from referral team: lack of time, insurance issues, patient non-compliance, long wait times. Conclusion: This project sheds light on the challenges and successes of implementing a standardized follow-up plan for mental health referrals within a primary care setting, underscoring the importance of addressing barriers to optimize patient care.
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Creighton University
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Copyright is retained by the Author. A non-exclusive distribution right is granted to Creighton University
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