Integrated primary care and social work: A systematic review

Mark W. Fraser, Brianna M. Lombardi, Shiyou Wu, Lisa de Saxe Zerden, Erica L. Richman, Erin P. Fraher

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    60 Scopus citations


    Objective: Behavioral and physical health services are increasingly being integrated, with care provided by interprofessional teams of physicians, nurses, social workers, and other professionals. The objective of this study was to describe the functions of social workers on interprofessional teams in primary care and to assess the impact of interprofessional teams that include social workers in integrated care settings. Method: We undertook a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of routine vs. integrated primary care where social workers served on interprofessional teams. A 5-phase search process to identify RCTs from 9 electronic databases and the gray literature published between 2000 and 2016 was used. We calculated effect sizes across identified studies and conducted 2 subsample meta-analyses for behavioral health outcomes. Results: The searches recovered 502 citations. After screening, 107 reports were retained for a full-text review, and 32 of those (from 26 RCTs) met study criteria. In the 26 RCTs, social workers engaged in 3 patient-centered activities: behavioral health treatment, care management, and referral for social services. Conclusion: Although mixed, the findings suggest that, compared to routine services, integrated primary care provided by interprofessional teams that include social workers significantly improves the behavioral health and care of patients.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)175-215
    Number of pages41
    JournalJournal of the Society for Social Work and Research
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


    • Integrated behavioral health
    • Integrated care
    • Integrated primary care
    • Social work
    • Social worker

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science


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