Coordinating mental and physical health care in rural Australia: An integrated model for primary care settings

Scott J. Fitzpatrick, David Perkins, Tonelle Handley, Dale Brown, Teresa Luland, Eamonn Corvan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: The ‘GP Clinic’ provides primary health care to people using community mental health services in a small town in Australia. This article examines the factors that have driven successful integration in this rural location. Methods: A multiple methods case study approach was used comprising service record data for a 24 month period and semi-structured interviews with sixteen staff members associated with the integrated rural service model. Results: Processes and structures for establishing integrated care evolved locally from nurturing supportive professional and organisational relationships. A booking system that maximised attendance and minimised the work of the general practice ensured that issues to do with remuneration and the capacity for the general practitioner to provide care to those with complex needs were addressed. Strong collaborative relationships led to the upskilling of local staff in physical and mental health conditions and treatments, and ensured significant barriers for people with mental illness accessing primary care in rural Australia were overcome. Conclusions: Integrated physical and mental health service models that focus on building local service provider relationships and are responsive to community needs and outcomes may be more beneficial in rural settings than top down approaches that focus on policies, formal structures, and governance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Integrated Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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