Social Work in Integrated Primary Care: A Systematic Review

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Mark Fraser, PhD, MSW; Brianna Lombardi, MSW; Shiyou Wu, MSW; Lisa de Saxe Zerden, PhD, MS; Erica Richman, PhD, MSW; Erin Fraher, PhD, MPP

Conclusions and Policy Implications

1) The systematic literature review revealed three primary roles for social workers in integrated health care:

behavioral health specialists;

care managers;

a referral role.

2) The 26 RCTs indicated that compared to usual care, integrated care provided by interprofessional teams that included social work, improved both the behavioral and physical health of patients without increasing the cost of care.

3) The strongest evidence of this benefit was found for behavioral health outcomes for patients reporting depression and anxiety.

4) Social workers on interprofessional teams are improving patient health outcomes by addressing service utilization, resource needs, and functional quality of life that may mitigate barriers caused by negative social determinants of health.

5) Findings from these 26 studies reveal that team based health care (inclusive of social workers) is one of the building blocks that can transform our healthcare system to better address population health.

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