UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Online training of behavioral health providers for primary care practice

UMMS Affiliation

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

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Integrative Medicine | Medical Education | Primary Care | Psychiatry and Psychology


Introduction: Many behavioral health providers have not received training in primary care practice during their education. Since 2007, the online Certificate in Primary Care Behavioral Health course has been completed by thousands of behavioral health providers. An evaluation of the course assessed whether learner's baseline confidence in their abilities to address behavioral health concerns in primary care settings changed over time, whether learning outcomes for live offerings of the course differed from asynchronous offerings, and whether learning outcomes for psychologists and social workers differed.

Method: Learners were asked to rate their confidence in their abilities using 10 retrospective pre-post questions. Responses from 14 cohorts of learners, between 2011 and 2019 were assessed. T-tests and analyses of variance were used to compare groups.

Results: Learners' baseline confidence in their abilities changed in three of the areas assessed. Those completing the course asynchronously reported outcomes equal to or greater than those completing the course synchronously. In all but one domain, psychologists and social workers reported equal increases in their confidence.

Discussion: Learners reported significant improvements in confidence in their ability to work as behavioral health providers in primary care. With one exception, these findings did not differ for psychologists and social workers. Over time, baseline confidence of behavioral health providers enrolling in the course increased in some areas, particularly those focused on patients with substance use disorders. Learning outcomes for the asynchronous version of the course support the continued delivery of asynchronous training of behavioral health providers working in primary care.


integrated primary care, integrated behavioral health, primary care behavioral health, online education, program evaluation

DOI of Published Version



Mullin DJ, Savageau JA, Sullivan K. Online training of behavioral health providers for primary care practice. Fam Syst Health. 2021 Jun;39(2):327-335. doi: 10.1037/fsh0000627. PMID: 34410774. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Families, systems and health : the journal of collaborative family healthcare

PubMed ID