Addressing Barriers to Primary Care Screening and Referral to Prevention for Youth Risky Health Behaviors: Evidence Regarding Potential Cost-Savings and Provider Concerns

Academic Article


  • Despite growing evidence and support for co-locating behavioral services in primary care to prevent risky health behaviors, implementation of these services has been limited due to a lack of reimbursement for services and negative perceptions among providers. We investigated potential to overcome these barriers based on new developments in healthcare funding and screening and referral to prevention (SRP) in primary care based on the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR), which could guide future SRP implementation strategies. To investigate the economic need for healthcare-based SRP, we quantified hospital charges to healthcare payors for services arising from adolescent risky behaviors (e.g., substance use, risky sex). Annual North Carolina (NC) hospital charges for these services exceeded $327┬áM (2019 dollars), suggesting high potential for cost savings if SRP can curb hospital services associated with risky behaviors. To investigate provider barriers and facilitators, we surveyed 151 NC pediatricians and 230 NC family therapists about their attitudes regarding a recently developed well-child visit SRP with family-based prevention. Both sets of professionals reported widespread need for and interest in the SRP but cited barriers of lack of reimbursement, training, and referrals to/from each other. Physicians, but not family therapists, reported concerns with poor patient or parent compliance. Many barriers could be resolved by co-locating family therapists in pediatric clinics to conduct well-child SRP. Our results support further research to develop business models for payor-funded SRP and CFIR-guided research to develop implementation strategies for primary care SRP to prevent adolescent risky health behaviors.
  • Published In

  • Prevention Science  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Ridenour TA; Murray DW; Hinde J; Glasheen C; Wilkinson A; Rackers H; Coyne-Beasley T
  • Start Page

  • 212
  • End Page

  • 223
  • Volume

  • 23
  • Issue

  • 2