Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2024.1356979; PMCID: PMC11116771


OBJECTIVE: Youth unmet behavioral health needs are at public health crisis status and have worsened since the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic (Covid-19). Integrating behavioral health services into pediatric primary care has shown efficacy in addressing youth behavioral health needs. However, there is limited guidance on facilitating equitable access to care in this setting, including in triaging access to co-located services (i.e., onsite outpatient behavioral health services with only the behavioral health provider) or to specialty behavioral health services in other clinics within larger health systems.

METHODS: A retrospective, comparative study was conducted to examine variability in access to co-located and specialty behavioral health (SBH) services for a pre-Covid-19 cohort (April 2019 to March 2020;

RESULTS: The majority of youth were not directly scheduled for a co-located or SBH visit but the majority of those scheduled attended their visit(s). The odds of not being directly scheduled for a co-located or SBH visit were greater for the mid-Covid-19 cohort, Black youth, and older youth. Accounting for integrated primary care consultation visits addressed these disparities, with the exception of persisting significant differences in scheduled and attended co-located and SBH visits for Black youth even while accounting for IPC consultation.

IMPLICATION: Findings from the current study highlight the effective role of integrated primary care consultation services as facilitating access to initial behavioral health services, especially given that referrals to integrated primary care co-located and SBH services within the larger health system often involve barriers to care such as longer wait-times and increased lack of referral follow through. Ongoing research and equitable program development are needed to further this work.

Journal Title

Front Psychiatry



First Page


Last Page



access to care; co-located care; consultation or warm handoffs; integrated primary care; racial disparities; specialty behavioral health


Grants and funding

The author(s) declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Part of the research conducted for this study was financially supported by the Children’s Mercy Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Scholar Award granted to the corresponding author, AC. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Publisher's Link:

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