Category: Primary Care

Symposium

African American Children Presenting to an Integrated Behavioral Health Team in Pediatric Primary Care: Referral Characteristics

Friday, November 17
1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom M & N, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: African Americans | Integrated Care | Service Delivery
Presentation Type: Symposium

Compared to White children, African American children with mental health concerns are less likely to be identified and receive treatment (Alegría et al., 2010; Garland et al., 2005), and receive lower-intensity services when identified and treated (Bussing et al., 1998; Cummings & Druss, 2011). Racial minority parents also may be less likely to obtain treatment for their children if a problem is identified, perhaps due to the stigma associated with mental health conditions (McMiller & Weisz, 1996; Roberts et al., 2005). Thus, primary care, where youth regularly access services and visit their medical provider, seems like an ideal location to serve African American children with behavioral health concerns. Over the past decade, behavioral health services in pediatric primary care have become more prevalent (Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative, 2013), serving as referral services or provide evidence-based treatment to families of children with mental health or behavioral concerns.


This paper will describe the referral characteristics and service use of 79 African American children (M age = 9.57, SD = 4.4; 53% male, 89% Medicaid) referred to an integrated behavioral health service in an urban pediatric primary care setting by their primary care physician. Primary caregivers completed the Pediatric Symptoms Checklist-17. Approximately half of children obtained clinically significant scores in the areas of attention problems (58.2%), externalizing symptoms (49.4%), or internalizing symptoms (46.8%). Child age was negatively related to attention problems (r=-.35, p=.001) and externalizing problems (r=-.36, p=.001). However, child age was positively related to internalizing problems (r=.32, p=.003). Following their consultation, most children (86%) received referrals for outpatient therapy or follow-up with the team for short-term therapy. As data collection is ongoing, we will update these statistics and investigate relationships between referral characteristics and behavioral health team recommendations. Implications for better tailoring the service, particularly as relevant to working with African American families will be presented.

Heather A. Jones

Assistant Professor of Psychology
Virginia Commonwealth University

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