A disproportionate share of Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) users have a behavioral health condition, but there exists limited research examining changes in behavioral health provision in FQHCs. The objectives of this study were to describe how the provision of behavioral health services by FQHCs to the population of people with behavioral health conditions has changed over time in the US, how these trends varied across states, and whether the proportion of total delivered services that are behavioral health services has changed within FQHCs over time.
Descriptive analysis using the Uniform Data System and Global Burden of Disease Datasets from years 2012 to 2019.
From 2012 to 2019, FQHC behavioral health visits per 1,000 population with any behavioral health condition grew 103%, with a 26-fold difference in average rates across states during the study period. Annual behavioral health visits per patient increased from 3.2 to 2012 to 3.4 in 2019. From 2012 to 2019, the number of behavioral health visits per 1,000 FQHC patients grew by 51%, whereas the rate of asthma visits declined by 14%, heart disease visits declined by 4%, and hypertension and diabetes related visits remained stable (changing < 1% for both).
Behavioral health visit growth at FQHCs outpaced national prevalence of behavioral health conditions. This growth was driven by FQHCs serving an increasing number of patients with behavioral health conditions, without sacrificing the frequency of visits for individual patients with behavioral health conditions.