Poor health outcomes and escalating costs have prompted significant healthcare reform in recent decades. The success of such reform efforts is commonly measured across 3 domains known as the Triple Aim framework: (a) patient experience of care, (b) population health, and (c) healthcare costs. The Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) has emerged as a leading paradigm in primary care to improve outcomes in these 3 domains. The PCMH strives to be comprehensive, patient-centered, coordinated, accessible, and of high quality and safety. Within the PCMH, integrating behavioral health specialists into primary care has the potential to substantially improve healthcare quality and reduce costs. Within primary care settings, patients with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) are common, costly, and respond poorly to treatment, despite increased use of healthcare services. Understanding how healthcare seeking behavior interacts with factors outlined in conceptual models of MUS can help treatment developers design more effective interventions to improve functioning and reduce unnecessary utilization. The goal of this project is to develop and pilot test a brief integrated primary care intervention for patients with MUS. The main outcomes will be to evaluate acceptability and feasibility for patients and physicians and to pilot research procedures before investing in a fully-powered randomized control trial.
Integrated primary care refers to the combination of physicians and behavioral health specialists. This project describes the development and testing of a brief integrated primary care intervention for patients who have chronic physical symptoms that are not well understood medically.