Integrated Behavioral Healthcare in Dermatology: A Co-Located Care Pilot Study
This project aims to determine the feasibility of offering psychosocial care together with dermatology appointments in a ‘real-world’ dermatology clinic, and measure initial impacts of behavioral healthcare on alopecia areata patients’ psychosocial functioning.
The literature is replete with findings of increased psychosocial distress and lowered Quality of Life (QOL) in alopecia areata (AA) patients, yet identifying, addressing and treating this psychosocial distress during routine dermatological clinical care is rarely done. To begin addressing this assumed unmet need of AA patients for psychosocial care, a co-located behavioral healthcare pilot program was developed for implementation with AA patients seen in hair disorder clinics within the Department of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota. From the perspective of this study, behavioral healthcare refers to addressing and improving the QOL of persons with chronic health conditions, through provision of very-brief psychotherapy services embedded within medical settings.The study consists of two arms: a treatment arm consisting of two, 30-minute psychotherapy sessions during which emotional social support and enhancement of skills for living better with AA are provided, and a control arm, in which no behavioral health sessions are provided. Both groups will complete pre-treatment and 1-month post-treatment assessments of psychosocial functioning, specifically demoralization/emotional distress, appearance shame, psychological symptoms, life functioning, emotional social support and coping ability. Pilot study objectives are to asses AA patients’ perspectives on offering psychosocial care concomitantly with dermatology appointments, determining the feasibility of research on offering such care in a ‘real-world’ dermatology clinic, and measuring initial impacts of behavioral healthcare on AA patients’ psychosocial functioning. The goal of the project is to assess pilot results in anticipation of a national, multisite, grant application for similar research focused on improving the QOL of AA patients.
If successful, this study could lead to integrated behavioral healthcare in dermatology becoming a best practice in alopecia areata dermatologic care.