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Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care

We recently completed a study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, that tested a communications skills training program for pediatric primary health care providers (doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants). The training combined elements of patient-centered care, family and cognitive  therapy, and motivational interviewing. Its goal was to build providers' capacity, in their day-to-day encounters with patients, to help with children's emotional and behavioral problems. The package of training skills had many overlaps with what are known as "common factors," the elements thought to be responsible for the impact of many forms of psychotherapy. In this first trial, we found that mental health outcomes improved for both parents and children of trained providers, and there was evidence that training helped reduce disparities between the mental health outcomes of African-American and white children.

Citations of papers from the study can be found under the "Publications" link on the left side of this page.

Click here for a sample of the training materials in English. We have also worked with colleagues in Brazil on an adaptation.  Click here for a sample of the training materials in Portuguese.

Dr. Kathi Kemper of Wake Forest University School of Medicine created a web-based adaptation of the training, hosted by the Northwest (North Carolina) Area Health Education Center.  The web training is available free of charge at; a evaluation report is listed with our publications.

"Cluster" guides (drafts)

Related to common factors, common treatment elements (see the work of Bruce Chorpita and colleagues) are the building blocks of more complex evidence-based treatments for specific mental disorders.  Along with others, we are exploring the use of these common elements as a flexible skill set that primary care providers might use as a front-lines approach to common emotional and behavior problems.  We are in the processes of developing brief guides, built around the elements, for four main clusters.  Posted here are working drafts based on a format originally developed by the World Health Organization.

Anxiety in young children

Conduct and behavior problems in young children

Depression among adolescents

Attention problems


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