Title

Assessment of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho Focus Clinic: A Pilot Study

Publication Date

6-2006

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Health Science, Health Policy

Major Advisor

Sarah E. Toevs

Advisor

Kara Cadwallader

Advisor

James R. Girvan

Abstract

The primary care provider is actively involved in providing mental health treatment to their patients. In the United States, nearly 60% of mental health care is provided by the primary care physician (National Association of Rural Mental Health [NARMH], 1995). Approximately 50% of people diagnosed with mental health conditions seek treatment from providers in the primary care setting (NARMH, 1995). The care provided at Family Medicine Residency of Idaho (FMRI) mirrors these national statistics. Because of this, FMRI introduced a Focus Clinic to assist in training family physicians to diagnose and treat common mental illnesses seen in rural and other underserved populations. Patients with complex mood disorders are referred to the Focus Clinic by their primary care provider (PCP) and participate in a 30 to 45-minute appointment with their PCP and a psychiatrist or psychologist.

The focus of this research was to assess two strategies of gathering patient satisfaction and perceived impact of treatment from patients participating in the FMRI Focus Clinic through face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews and medical chart reviews. This was done by interviewing patients immediately following the Focus Clinic. The efficacy of telephone interviews conducted 10-11 months post-participation in the Focus Clinic was examined. Chart reviews were conducted to determine the efficacy in assessing implementation and impact of Focus Clinic recommendations. An interview tool was developed to gather qualitative data. Interview questions were designed to examine the patient's perspective of their participation in the Focus Clinic.

The results of the study revealed that patients were satisfied with their experience and believed the Focus Clinic was helping them with their illness. They felt their doctor cared about their well-being and was doing a good job treating them. The information provided by the patients was in general congruent with the information documented in their medical chart.

The feedback provided by the participants was a strength to this study. The responses and comments obtained in the research will help to assure FMRI staff that the Focus Clinic was a positive experience for those individuals who participated in the interview process. Additionally, the comments helped to illuminate the importance of a relationship built on trust and confidence between the physician and patient.

This research study provided useful qualitative information from the participants. While evaluation costs time and money, it is crucial to continue evaluating the impact, both short-term and long-term, of the Focus Clinic by involving the participants in the research.

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