Psychologists have been working in primary health care settings for over 30 years (McDaniel & LeRoux, 2007) providing assessments and treatment to patients and their families. Research shows that 24 % of patients who present themselves to primary care physicians suffer from a well-defined mental disorder, and 69 % of these patients present to physicians with physical symptoms and many of their mental health needs remain undetected (APA, 2010). According to a quote in the Monitor (January 2010) by Katherine Nordal, Ph.D. (Executive Director, APA Practice Directorate) “Psychologist are the leading experts…We have the skills to improve quality of life, reduce the level of disability associated with illness and at the same time dramatically reduce cost in our health-care system”.
Psychologists Role in Primary Health Care Settings (APA, 2010; Blount & Miller, 2009; McDaniel & LeRoux, 2007):
- Conduct cognitive, capacity, diagnostic, and personality assessments that differentiate typical behavior from pathology across the lifespan, side effects of medications, adjustment reactions, or combinations of these problems
- Offer behavioral health assessment and treatment that provide youth and adults with the skills necessary to effectively manage their chronic conditions
- Diagnose and treat mental and behavioral health problems (e.g. depression or suicide risk).
- Offer consultation and recommendations to family members, significant others, and other health care providers
- Contribute research expertise to the design, implementation, and evaluation of team care and patient outcomes
- Develop interventions that are responsive to specific individual and community characteristics that may impact the treatment plan
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Copyright 2013 Erlanger A. Turner, Ph.D.
Version previously published by Erlanger Turner, Ph.D. at http://www.apa.org/apags/programs/bulletin/2010/04/issue.pdf