Abstract: Objective: To understand collaborative care psychiatric consultants’ views and practices on making the diagnosis of and recommending treatment for bipolar disorder in primary care using collaborative care.Method: We conducted a focus group at the University of Washington in December 2013 with nine psychiatric consultants working in primary care-based collaborative care in Washington State. A grounded theory approach with open coding and the constant comparative method revealed categories where emergent themes were saturated and validated through member checking, and a conceptual model was developed.Results: Three major themes emerged from the data including the importance of working as a collaborative care team, the strengths of collaborative care for treating bipolar disorder, and the need for psychiatric consultants to adapt specialty psychiatric clinical skills to the primary care setting. Other discussion topics included gathering clinical data from multiple sources over time, balancing risks and benefits of treating patients indirectly, tracking patient care outcomes with a registry, and effective care.Conclusion: Experienced psychiatric consultants working in collaborative care teams provided their perceptions regarding treating patients with bipolar illness including identifying ways to adapt specialty psychiatric skills, developing techniques for providing team-based care, and perceiving the care delivered through collaborative care as high quality.

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