Barriers and Facilitators to the Integration of Mental Health services into Primary Health Care: A Systematic Review

    Wakida, E. K., Talib, Z. M., Akena, D., Okello, E. S., Kinengyere, A., Mindra, A., & Obua, C. (2018). Barriers and facilitators to the integration of mental health services into primary health care : a systematic review, 1–13.

  • 20 October 2020


Background: The objective of the review was to synthesize evidence of barriers and facilitators to the integration of mental health services into PHC from existing literature. The structure of the review was guided by the SPIDER framework which involves the following: Sample or population of interest—primary care providers (PCPs); Phenomenon of Interest—integration of mental health services into primary health care (PHC); Design—influenced robustness and analysis of the study; Evaluation—outcomes included subjective outcomes (views and attitudes); and Research type—qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies.

Methods: Studies that described mental health integration in PHC settings, involved primary care providers, and presented barriers/facilitators of mental health integration into PHC were included in the review. The sources of information included PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled trials, the WHO website, and OpenGrey. Assessment of bias and quality was done using two separate tools: the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) qualitative checklist and the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies.

Results: Twenty studies met the inclusion criteria out of the 3353 search results. The most frequently reported barriers to integration of mental health services into PHC were (i) attitudes regarding program acceptability, appropriateness, and credibility; (ii) knowledge and skills; (iii) motivation to change; (iv) management and/or leadership; and (v) financial resources. In order to come up with an actionable approach to addressing the barriers, these factors were further analyzed along a behavior change theory.

Discussion: We have shown that the integration of mental health services into PHC has been carried out by various countries. The analysis from this review provides evidence to inform policy on the existing barriers and facilitators to the implementation of the mental health integration policy option. Not all databases may have been exhausted.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO 2016 (Registration Number: CRD42016052000) and published in BMC Systematic Reviews August 2017.