Clinicians' Utilization of Child Mental Health Telephone Consultation in Primary Care

Findings from Massachusetts

Published In: Psychiatric Services, v. 65, no. 3, Mar. 2014, p. 391-394

Posted on RAND.org on March 01, 2014

by Katherine Hobbs Knutson, Bruce J. Masek, Jeffrey Q. Bostic, John H. Straus, Bradley D. Stein

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OBJECTIVE: The authors examined utilization of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project, a mental health telephone consultation service for primary care, hypothesizing that greater use would be related to severe psychiatric diagnoses and polypharmacy. METHODS: The authors examined the association between utilization, defined as the mean number of contacts per patient during the 180 days following the initial contact (July 2008–June 2009), and characteristics of the initial contact, including consultation question, the child's primary mental health problem, psychotropic medication regimen, insurance status, and time of year. RESULTS: Utilization (N=4,436 initial contacts, mean=3.83 contacts) was associated with initial contacts about medication management, polypharmacy, public and private health insurance, and time of year. The child's primary mental health problem did not predict utilization. CONCLUSIONS: Telephone consultation services address treatment with psychotropic medications, particularly polypharmacy. Joint public-private funding should be considered for such public programs that serve privately insured children.

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