Date of Submission
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology
Bruce S Zahn, EdD, ABPP, Chairperson
Stephanie H Felgoise, PhD, ABPP
Richard Pascucci, DO
This dissertation study is designed to add to the knowledge base about physician training in the integrated primary care environment by examining if relationships exist between students’ years of training in an osteopathic medical school, empathy in patient-care situations, stigma toward people with mental illness, and attitudes toward collaborative care for behavioral health. In addition, the relationships between medical students’ attitudes toward collaborative care for behavioral health, factors that influence their referral decision making, recognition of a hypothetical patient in need of a potential behavioral health referral, current year in medical training, and demographic characteristics were explored. This is important because the current direction of primary care and behavioral health is headed toward full integration. This direction of health care is unsurprising when considering that 50-70% of patients seen in primary care are estimated to present with psychological symptoms (Belar, 2008; Gatchel & Oordt, 2003). Developing empathy in medical students has been recognized both as an essential element of medical education and as essential to clinical competency (Gleichgerrcht & Decety, 2013; Halpern, 2003). However, patients with behavioral health needs around the world continue to suffer from stigmatization and limited care, even by health care providers (Culter et al., 2009). A cross-sectional study was conducted, using a case vignette and an online survey to investigate if there is a relationship between D.O. students’ year in medical training, empathy in patient-care situations, stigma of mental illness, and attitudes toward collaborative care for behavioral health. In addition, this study examined if there is a relationship between D.O. students’ attitudes toward collaborative care for behavioral health, factors that influence their referral decision making, recognition of a hypothetical patient’s need for a potential behavioral health referral, year in medical training, and demographic characteristics. To determine if medical students’ empathy, stigma, and year of medical training are predictive of their attitudes toward collaborative care for behavioral health, a multiple regression analysis was conducted, using SPSS. The implications of the results of this study include the potential to enhance the ongoing integration of behavioral health and primary care by adding to the knowledge base for improving medical education to better prepare aspiring physicians for assessing behavioral health concerns and working in integrated healthcare settings. This can lead to reducing the overutilization and costs of healthcare, decreasing the burden that patients with behavioral health needs have on physicians and primary care settings, improving the care and treatment outcomes of behavioral health issues and comorbid illnesses, and increasing both patient and physician satisfaction.
Jaegly, Jason J., "Medical Students' Recognition of Patients' Behavioral Health Needs" (2016). PCOM Psychology Dissertations. 367.