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University of Iowa News Release

July 31, 2006

UI Offers Aug. 25 Conference on Integrating Psychiatry And Primary Care

Increasingly, primary care doctors and other health care professionals need to address patients' psychiatric problems and treatment needs.

To help primary care professionals with the necessary skills, the University of Iowa will offer an all-day conference Friday, Aug. 25, at hotelVetro & Conference Center at 201 S. Linn St. in downtown Iowa City.

Physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and other mid-level practitioners working in primary care or internal medicine may register for "Medicine and Psychiatry: Integration in Primary Care" online by clicking on "Upcoming Conferences" at or by contacting the UI Continuing Medical Education Division at 319-335-8599. (Information about fees is provided at the end of this news release.)

People with mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia can receive care for their illness in several different settings, said Anjan Bhattacharyya, M.D., clinical assistant professor of internal medicine and psychiatry in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

"The assumption that patients receive care only in specialty mental health settings such as psychiatrists' or psychologists' offices, psychiatric hospitals or drug rehabilitation centers is false," said Bhattacharyya, who is the course director for the upcoming continuing medical education course.

According to Bhattacharyya, more than 6 percent of the U.S. adult population uses the general medical sector for mental health care, which is about as many people as those who visit specialty mental health providers every year. Some studies have estimated that as many as one in four primary care visits is in some way related to a mental health problem.

"Because many mental illnesses are common, and the fact that patients with these illnesses often seek care from a primary care provider, it is essential that primary care providers know how to manage and when to refer patients with these problems," Bhattacharyya said.

Many common problems in primary care overlap both physical medicine and psychiatry, such as chronic pain and alcohol and substance abuse.

"Chronic medical problems and chronic pain often have close ties with psychiatric problems like depression. This connection is often bidirectional, in that chronic pain can lead to depression, and clinical depression can worsen symptoms of pain. Thus, the most effective approach is to treat both aspects of the problem, physical and mental, often using a multidisciplinary approach," Bhattacharyya said.

The Aug. 25 conference will bring together faculty from the UI and other medical centers across the Midwest who have an expertise in psychiatry as well as an understanding of the primary care setting.

"The intent is to bring information and skills in managing mental health problems, but tailored to the needs of the provider in primary care," Bhattacharyya said.

The program is sponsored by the UI Departments of Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Psychiatry.

Registration fees are $150 for physicians and $75 for nurses and allied health care professionals. Clinical appointment faculty in the UI College of Medicine and retired or emeritus physicians may register for $25. Full-time UI internal medicine faculty and residents, and all medical students may attend free of charge. 

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

PROGRAM CONTACT: UI Continuing Medical Education Division at 319-335-8599, (click on "Upcoming Conferences").

MEDIA CONTACT: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660 Writer: Andrea Schreiber

PRONUNCIATION NOTE: Bhattacharyya is pronounced BAH-ta-char-e-uh.