A novel approach for mental health disease management: the Air Force Medical Service's interdisciplinary model

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Integrated Primary Care; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Health Psychology | Health Services Administration | Integrative Medicine | Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Primary Care | Psychiatry and Psychology


Mental health disorders are one of the most substantial public health problems affecting society today, accounting for roughly 15% of the overall burden of disease from all causes in the United States. Although primary care (PC) has the potential to be the frontline for recognition and management of behavioral health conditions, this has been a challenge historically. In order to more effectively address the broad scope of behavioral health needs, the Air Force Medical Service (AFMS) established a new model of behavioral health care. Through a series of coordinated steps, the AFMS ultimately placed trained behavioral health providers into PC clinics to serve as consultants to PC providers (PCPs). Behavioral Health Consultants (BHCs) provide focused assessments, present healthcare options to patients, and deliver brief collaborative interventions in the PC setting. BHCs see patients at the request of the PCP, in 15-30-min appointments. In the pilot study, patients averaged 1.6 visits to the BHC. Over 70% of patients fell into six categories of presenting problems: situational reactions, depressive disorders, adjustment disorders, anxiety disorders, health promotion, and obesity. Patient data (n = 76) suggest 97% of patients seen were either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with BHC services, and 100% of the PCPs (n = 23, 68% response rate) were highly satisfied and indicated they would "definitely recommend" others use BHC services for their patients. Both the implications and the limitations of this pilot study are discussed.

DOI of Published Version



Dis Manag. 2003 Fall;6(3):179-88. doi: 10.1089/109350703322425527. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Disease management : DM


At the time of publication, Christine Runyan was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID