Testing the proposed benefits of integrated care : referral compliance, client satisfaction, and treatment adherence
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Over the past two decades, in an effort to narrow the gap between the fields of medicine and mental health, researchers have increasingly studied models of health care featuring varying degrees of collaboration between the two disciplines. Throughout the literature, models featuring higher degrees of collaboration between primary care providers (PCPs) and mental health providers (MHPs) are hypothesized as having a number of benefits (e.g., higher mental health referral compliance rates, higher client satisfaction, increased treatment adherence, etc.) over models that feature little-to-no collaboration between said providers. This paper encourages future research to put that notion to the test by pitting two models of health care – an ‘integrated care’ model (featuring high collaboration), and a ‘traditional care’ model (featuring low collaboration) – directly against one another. After reviewing some of the current problems with our nation’s healthcare system, the history behind the biopsychosocial movement, and the literature on various models of collaborative care, the author outlines a proposal for how future experimental studies could be developed focusing on three specific outcomes: referral compliance, client satisfaction, and treatment adherence. Research questions, hypotheses, and implications for the health care marketplace are discussed in detail.