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Partnership for Implementation of Evidence-Based Mental Health Practices in Rural Federally Qualified Health Centers: Theory and Methods


Background: Mental health and substance abuse are among the most commonly reported reasons for visits to Federally Qualified Health Centers (CHCs), yet only 6.5% of encounters are with on-site behavioral health specialists. Rural CHCs are significantly less likely to have on-site behavioral specialists than urban CHCs. Because of this lack of mental health specialists in rural areas, the most promising approach to improving mental health outcomes is to help rural primary care (PC) providers deliver evidence-based practices (EBPs). Despite the scope of these problems, no research has developed an effective implementation strategy for facilitating the adoption of mental health EBPs for rural CHCs. We sought to describe the conceptual components of an implementation partnership that focuses on the adaption and adoption of mental health EBPs by rural CHCs in Arkansas.

Methods: We present a conceptual model that integrates seven separate frameworks: (1) Jones and Wells' Evidence-Based Community Partnership Model, (2) Kitson's Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARiHS) implementation framework, (3) Sackett's definition of evidence-based medicine, (4) Glisson's organizational social context model, (5) Rubenstein's Evidence-Based Quality Improvement (EBQI) facilitation process, (6) Glasgow's RE-AIM evaluation approach, and (7) Naylor's concept of shared decision making.

Conclusions: By integrating these frameworks into a meaningful conceptual model, we hope to develop a successful implementation partnership between an academic health center and small rural CHCs to improve mental health outcomes. Findings from this implementation partnership should have relevance to hundreds of clinics and millions of patients, and could help promote the sustained adoption of EBPs across rural America.

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