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Decke, Siona; Deckert, Karina; Lang, Martin; Laub, Otto; Loidl, Verena; Schwettmann, Lars and Grill, Eva (2020): “We’re in good hands there.” - Acceptance, barriers and facilitators of a primary care-based health coaching programme for children and adolescents with mental health problems: a qualitative study (PrimA-QuO). In: BMC family practice, Vol. 21, No. 273 [PDF, 1MB]


Background 11.5 % of girls and 17.8 % of boys are affected by a mental health problem (MHP). The most prevalent problem areas are behavioural problems (girls/boys in %: 11.9/17.9), emotional problems (9.7/8.6) and hyperactivity problems (4.8/10.8). Primary care paediatricians are the first in line to be contacted. Nevertheless, even for less severely affected patients, referral rates to specialised care are constantly high. Therefore, a major statutory health insurance fund introduced a Health Coaching (HC) programme, including a training concept for paediatricians, standardised guidelines for actions and additional payments to strengthen primary care consultation for MHP and to decrease referrals to specialised care. The aim of this study was to examine how the HC is perceived and implemented in daily practice to indicate potential strengths and challenges.

Methods During a one-year period starting in November 2017, a series of guideline-based interviews were conducted by phone with HC-developers, HC-qualified paediatricians, parents and patients (≥14 years) treated according to the HC programme. Paediatricians were selected from a Bavarian practice network with a total of 577 HC qualified paediatricians. Parents of patients with the four most common MHP diagnoses were approached by their health insurance: [World Health Organization, 2013] developmental disorder of speech and language [Wille N, et al., 2008] head/abdominal pain (somatoform) [Holling H, et al., 2003-2006 and 2009-2012] conduct disorder [Plass-Christl A, et al., 2018] non-organic enuresis. 23 paediatricians, 314 parents and 10 adolescents consented to be interviewed. Potential participants were selected based on purposeful sampling, according to principles of maximum variance. All interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Two researchers analysed the transcripts independently of each other. Structuring content analysis derived from Mayring was used for analysis.

Results 11 paediatricians, 3 co-developers, 22 parents and 4 adolescents were included. Families were generally satisfied with paediatric care received in the programme’s context. The HC supported paediatricians’ essential role as consultants and improved their diagnostic skills. Lack of time, financial restrictions and patients’ challenging family structures were reported as major barriers to success.

Conclusion The HC programme is perceived as a facilitator for more patient-centred care. However, structural barriers remain. Starting points for improvement are further options to strengthen families’ resources and expanded interdisciplinary networking.

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