BACKGROUND: Children with mental illnesses are seen across various service sectors, including pediatric primary care. As such, care coordination, which has been shown to improve outcomes, is especially important. Little is known about organizational and state level factors that might affect pediatricians' efforts to coordinate care for children with mental illnesses. OBJECTIVES: This study used data from a survey of primary care pediatricians to examine organizational and state level variables associated with increased care coordination for children with mental illnesses. METHODS: We undertook a cross-sectional study using data from a survey of pediatricians. A total of 1337 pediatricians in 6 states were surveyed about their care coordination and about organizational characteristics. State level data were gathered from various sources. A 5-item scale was developed for the dependent variable of past month coordination contacts (Cronbach's alpha = 0.82). RESULTS: No state level variables were associated with pediatrician coordination behaviors. Having a regular case conferencing mechanism, staff assigned to coordinate care, and a mental health specialist in the practice were associated with increased past month coordination contacts. Pediatricians in rural practices coordinated care more frequently than those in other locations. Pediatricians who screened more and those with more experience had higher rates of care coordination. CONCLUSIONS: Having a regular case conferencing mechanism, staff assigned to coordinate care, and a mental health specialist in the practice were associated with increased mental health care coordination. This information should be useful in planning ways to increase care coordination for children with mental illnesses seen in pediatric primary care. © 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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