Thursday, October 30, 2008

Integrating Mental Health, Substance Abuse, And Primary Medical Care Appears Promising, But More Research Is Needed

A new report released today by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found evidence that people treated for depression in primary care clinics that provide coordinated services for mental and physical health do better and have fewer symptoms than patients who are treated at sites that just provide health services. However, the report's authors could not identify the mechanism by which this improvement occurred; nor could they determine whether any level of traditional beliefs about integrating mental and physical health services, or simply systematic practice, produced the benefit.

The report, which was co-funded by HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Women's Health, and Office of Minority Health, also found that patients treated in specialty mental health centers appear to benefit when the facilities offer general medical care, but the number of studies was too limited to draw firm conclusions.

The report by the AHRQ-supported University of Minnesota Evidence-based Research Center in Minneapolis, did not find sufficient evidence to draw conclusions about the impact of integrating mental health and physical medicine services on patients with anxiety disorders, alcohol use disorders, or other mental or behavioral health problems.

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