Physician referral to a psychologist: Testing alternative behavioral healthcare seeking models

Joseph H. Hammer, Douglas A. Spiker, Paul B. Perrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Primary care physicians (PCPs) often refer patients to psychological services, but help-seeking factors in the context of behavioral healthcare referral are understudied. This study examined perceptions of seeking psychological help for depression by comparing alternative structural equation models derived from the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA). Method: Internet survey participants (N = 685 US adults, 77% female, M age = 45) imagined themselves in a vignette scenario in which they are experiencing depression symptoms and encouraged by a PCP to see a psychologist. Results: Results supported the indirect model, in which the links between distal help-seeking factors (i.e., self-stigma, symptom recognition, perceived effectiveness of treatment) and intention to follow through on the referral to the psychologist were fully mediated by the more proximal TRA factors (i.e., attitudes, subjective norms, etc). Conclusions: Our findings supported the use of TRA in understanding peoples’ intention to seek psychological help for depression when referred by their PCP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-741
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Participants were recruited via ResearchMatch (RM), a national health volunteer registry created by several academic institutions and supported by the US National Institutes of Health as part of the Clinical Translational Science Award program. The (University of Kentucky) Office of Research Integrity approved the study. RM participants were contacted via the registry regarding the study, advertised as a survey about healthcare and personal well being. Interested participants were directed to a Qualtrics online survey that began with an informed consent page.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • help-seeking
  • help-seeking attitudes
  • integrated care
  • referral
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology


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