Implementation of Behavioral Health Integration in Small Primary Care Settings: Lessons Learned and Future Directions

Matthew L. Goldman, Ekaterina Smali, Talia Richkin, Harold Alan Pincus, Henry Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Primary care practices are in great need of practical guidance on the steps they can take to build behavioral health integration (BHI) capacities, particularly for smaller practice settings with fewer resources. 11 small primary care sites (≤ 5 providers) throughout New York State utilized a continuum framework of core components of BHI in combination with technical assistance. Surveys were collected at baseline, 6-months, and 12-months. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted during site visits, and a stakeholder roundtable was facilitated to address broader themes. Data were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis. Practices reported successful engagement with the framework and actively participated in planning and advancing BHI operations. Greater success was observed in practices with existing on-site BHI services, identified champions for BHI, early and sustained training and involvement of providers and administrators, use of collaborative agreements with external behavioral health providers, and capacity to successfully receive reimbursements for BHI services. Advancing health information technologies was a challenge across sites. Financing and policy factors were viewed as critically important to advance integration efforts. The pilot of a continuum framework offers lessons for primary care practices and policymakers to advance integrated BH care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-144
Number of pages9
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Behavioral health integration
  • Financial sustainability
  • Implementation
  • Qualitative evaluation
  • Technology barriers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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