Who needs collaborative care treatment? A qualitative study exploring attitudes towards and experiences with mental healthcare among general practitioners and care managers

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BACKGROUND: Collaborative care treatment is widely recognized as an effective approach to improve the quality of mental healthcare through enhanced and structured collaboration between general practice and specialized psychiatry. However, studies indicate that the complexity of collaborative care treatment interventions challenge the implementation in real-life general practice settings. Four Danish Collaborative Care Models were launched in 2014 for patients with mild/moderate anxiety and depression. These involved collaboration between general practitioners, care managers and consultant psychiatrists. Taking a multi-practice bottom-up approach, this paper aims to explore the perceived barriers and enablers related to collaborative care for patients with mental health problems and to investigate the actual experiences with a Danish collaborative care model in a single-case study in order to identify enablers and barriers for successful implementation.

METHODS: Combining interviews and observations of usual treatment practices, we conducted a multi-practice study among general practitioners who were not involved in the Danish collaborative care models to explore their perspectives on existing mental health treatment and to investigate (from a bottom-up approach) their perceptions of and need for collaborative care in mental health treatment. Additionally, by combining observations and qualitative interviews, we followed the implementation of a Danish collaborative care model in a single-case study to convey identified barriers and enablers of the collaborative care model.

RESULTS: Experienced and perceived enablers of the Danish collaborative care model mainly consisted of a need for new treatment options to deal with mild/moderate anxiety and depression. The model was considered to meet the need for a free fast track to high-quality treatment. Experienced barriers included: poor adaptation of the model to the working conditions and needs in daily general practice, time consumption, unsustainable logistical set-up and unclear care manager role. General practitioners in the multi-practice study considered access to treatment and not collaboration with specialised psychiatry to be essential for this group of patients.

CONCLUSIONS: The study calls for increased attention to implementation processes and better adaptation of collaborative care models to the clinical reality of general practice. Future interventions should address the treatment needs of specific patient populations and should involve relevant stakeholders in the design and implementation processes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Family Practice
Pages (from-to)78
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2018

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