Evaluation of Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) With the Addition of Self-help CBT - A Randomized Multicenter Trial

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Linnaeus University
Updated on 25 July 2021
depressed mood
panic disorder


In this multicenter study, the investigators want to find out if an addition of an diagnostic assessment and possibility of treatment with guided self-help CBT can increase the treatment effects of PCBH on patient functioning and symptoms, compared to standard PCBH which uses contextual assessment and brief interventions. In addition to this, the study will investigate the overall effect of PCBH on both patient and organisation level outcomes.


The overarching goal of primary care is to offer all patients individualised and context-sensitive healthcare with high access and continuity. One of the reasons primary care struggles with this goal is that a large proportion of patients suffer from mental and behavioural health problems, alone or in combination with one or several chronic illnesses. Despite many patients needing psychosocial interventions, there is a lack of mental health professionals as well as clear pathways for these patients.

Primary Care Behavioural Health (PCBH) is an innovative way of organising primary care, where mental health professionals have more yet shorter visits, strive for same-day access, and have an active consulting role in the primary care team. To help patients achieve relevant behavioural changes, so called brief interventions are used, which are based on isolated components from psychological treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Brief interventions usually stretch over 1-4 treatment sessions. Assessments within the model are generally contextual and largely avoid psychiatric diagnostics, instead focussing on the patient's situation and their associated coping strategies - whether they be positive or negative. However, these interventions have not been systematically evaluated in the same way that structured CBT has, and there is a risk that patients that would have benefitted from structured CBT and a diagnostic assessment are undertreated due to lack of diagnostics and the reduced visit duration and amount.

Data will be collected at primary care centres (PCCs) that already have a high fidelity to a PCBH framework. Fidelity will be measured by an expert group as well as using four questionnaires, one for each of mental health professionals, medical doctors, registered nurses and leadership. These fidelity scales will be validated in a separate study. In addition to fidelity, work environment and satisfaction with the PCBH implementation will be measured.

Patients at the centres will be randomised between receiving contextual assessments followed by brief interventions, or a diagnostic assessment, which can lead to treatment with either self-help CBT (if a treatable diagnosis is confirmed and the patient is suitable for self-help CBT) or brief interventions (if self-help CBT is not deemed to be a suitable intervention). The primary comparison is the outcome for patients who either received self-help CBT or are deemed suitable for the intervention based on screening data, while secondary analyses will look at treatment outcomes for all patients, including those with non-psychiatric problems such as crises, loss or work- or family-related problems. The study will also look at implementation outcomes for self-help CBT and diagnostic assessments to see if self-help CBT is a feasible addition to the PCBH model. Our main research questions are:

  1. Does an extended version of PCBH, including an additional assessment and the option of guided self-help CBT when indicated by a patient's problem profile, lead to superior patient outcomes compared to standard PCBH where a brief, contextual assessment followed by Brief Interventions is the only option? If not, can standard PCBH be shown to be non-inferior?
  2. Does the addition of guided self-help CBT have a negative effect on availability, reach, and cost-effectiveness compared to standard PCBH? If not, can guided self-help CBT be shown to be non-inferior to standard PCBH concerning these outcomes?

PCBH has the potential to increase the quality and access of care for many patients with mental and behavioural health problems. This study is the first to step towards answering whether or not the effects of brief intervention are large enough to merit large-scale implementation, and if an add-on of other brief and easily implementable treatments can increase the treatment effects.

Condition Depression (Major/Severe), Social Phobia, Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobia, Social, Depression (Treatment-Resistant), life stress, Insomnia, Adjustment Disorder, Burnout, obsessive compulsive disorder, ANXIETY NEUROSIS, miserable, Burn Out, Psychological stress, Anxiety Disorders, Hypochondriasis, Panic Disorder, Depressed, mental stress, depressive disorders, Panic Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Depression (Pediatric), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Panic Disorders (Pediatric), Lifestyle, depressed mood, depressive disorder, Depression (Adult and Geriatric), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD - Pediatric), Anxiety Disorders (Pediatric), Claustrophobia, Depression (Adolescent), Psychological Distress, psychologic stress, Endogenous depression
Treatment Brief interventions, Self-help CBT
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04900064
SponsorLinnaeus University
Last Modified on25 July 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

All patients from age 18 who seek care at the PCC, who are deemed to be suitable for Behavioural Health interventions and booked to the mental health professionals at the PCC, according to screening methods and/or clinical assessments made by health care personnel at the PCC, will be included. This broad criteria reflects the naturalistic setting where decisions of clinicians, rather than highly standardized criteria, are the basis for inclusion

Exclusion Criteria

Does not speak Swedish well enough to fill out questionnaires or to receive self-help CBT in Swedish
Is in need of emergency type care, like with suicidal ideation or behaviours, ongoing psychosis or mania
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