Innovations in primary care behavioral health: a pilot study across the U.S. Air Force

Ryan R Landoll, Matthew K Nielsen, Kathryn K Waggoner, Elizabeth Najera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Integrated primary care services have grown in popularity in recent years and demonstrated significant benefits to the patient experience, patient health, and health care operations. However, broader systems-level factors for health care organizations, such as utilization, access, and cost, have been understudied. The current study reviews the results of quality improvement project conducted by the U.S. Air Force, which has practiced integrated primary care behavioral health for over 20 years. This study focuses on exploring how shifting the access point for behavioral from specialty mental health clinics to primary care, along with the use of technicians in patient care, can improve a range of health outcomes. Retrospective data analysis was conducted on an internal Air Force quality improvement project implemented at three military treatment facilities from October 2014 to September 2015. Positive preliminary support for these innovations was seen in the form of expanded patient populations, decreased time to first appointment, increased patient encounters, and decreased purchased community care compared with non-participating sites. Incorporation of behavioral health technicians further increased number of patient encounters while maintaining high levels of patient satisfaction across diverse clinical settings; in fact, patients preferred appointments with both technicians and behavioral health providers, compared with appointments with behavioral health providers only. These findings encourage further systematic review of systems-level factors in primary care behavioral health and adoption of the use of provider extenders in primary care behavioral health clinics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-273
Number of pages8
JournalTranslational Behavioral Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Behavioral Medicine
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services
  • Military Personnel
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Primary Health Care/methods
  • Quality Improvement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States


Dive into the research topics of 'Innovations in primary care behavioral health: a pilot study across the U.S. Air Force'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this