Closing the False Divide: Sustainable Approaches to Integrating Mental Health Services into Primary Care

Kurt Kroenke, Jurgen Unutzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


Mental disorders account for 25% of all health-related disability worldwide. More patients receive treatment for mental disorders in the primary care sector than in the mental health specialty setting. However, brief visits, inadequate reimbursement, deficits in primary care provider (PCP) training, and competing demands often limit the capacity of the PCP to produce optimal outcomes in patients with common mental disorders. More than 80 randomized trials have shown the benefits of collaborative care (CC) models for improving outcomes of patients with depression and anxiety. Six key components of CC include a population-based approach, measurement-based care, treatment to target strategy, care management, supervision by a mental health professional (MHP), and brief psychological therapies. Multiple trials have also shown that CC for depression is equally or more cost-effective than many of the current treatments for medical disorders. Factors that may facilitate the implementation of CC include a more favorable alignment of medical and mental health services in accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes; greater use of telecare as well as automated outcome monitoring; identification of patients who might benefit most from CC; and systematic training of both PCPs and MHPs in integrated team-based care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-410
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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