Challenges in conducting research on collaborative mental health care: a qualitative study Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: We sought to understand poor uptake of the Primary Care Assessment and Research of a Telephone Intervention for Neuropsychiatric Conditions with Education and Resources study (PARTNERs), a pragmatic randomized controlled trial of a collaborative care intervention for people experiencing depression, anxiety or at-risk drinking. We explored primary care providers' experience with PARTNERs, and preferences regarding collaborative care models and trials. METHODS: In this qualitative study, we interviewed primary care providers across Ontario who had participated in PARTNERs, using stratified sampling to reach high-, low- and nonreferring providers in urban and rural settings. We audio-recorded, transcribed and thematically analyzed the interviews between May and December 2017, collecting and analyzing data concurrently until achieving saturation. RESULTS: We interviewed 23 primary care providers. They valued the unique availability of telephone-based coaching for patients but desired greater integration of the coach into their practice. They appreciated expert psychiatric recommendations but rarely changed their practices. Sites varied in organizational adoption and implementation of the study, including whether they designated a local champion, proactively identified eligible patients, integrated the study into existing workflows and reflected on (and revised) practices. These behaviours affected continuing awareness of the study and referral rates. INTERPRETATION: Study uptake was influenced by the limited relationship between PARTNERs coaches and primary care providers, and variable attention to leadership, training and quality improvement as vital elements of collaborative care. Study designs focusing on implementation could promote reach and penetration of novel interventions in the practice setting and more successfully advance collaborative care implementation.


  • Sunderji, Nadiya
  • Ion, Allyson
  • Zhu, Annie
  • Perivolaris, Athina
  • Rodie, David
  • Mulsant, Benoit H

publication date

  • 2019