Clinical considerations in designing brief exposure interventions for primary care behavioral health settings.

Evan J. White, Jennifer M. Wray, Robyn L. Shepardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Prevalence rates of anxiety disorders and symptoms in primary care (PC) settings are very high. Behavioral health consultants in primary care behavioral health (PCBH) settings enable increased access to evidence-based anxiety treatment. Despite strong extant support for exposure-based therapy for anxiety disorders, the use of exposure to treat anxiety in PC settings is low. Although barriers to exposure therapy (ET) may be exacerbated in PC settings, many anxiety presentations in PC warrant an exposure-based approach to treatment. Thus, exploration of feasibility and efficacy of ET in PC represents a critical area for advancing evidence-based treatment of anxiety symptoms. Methods: The current article addresses this gap through the presentation of two case examples of ET conducted in PCBH. Theoretical and practical information regarding the implementation of exposure using a brief (≤ 30 min), time-limited (4–6 visit) approached are presented. Results: Results from the case examples demonstrate feasibility of conducting exposure in a brief format consistent with a PCBH approach. Additionally, patient outcomes presented suggest that ET conducted in PCBH reduces anxiety symptoms and may facilitate referral to specialty care settings. Discussion: Exposure may offer promise in improving the quality of anxiety treatment in PC. Future work documenting both effectiveness and implementation outcomes of exposure in PC in clinical work and research trials is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-449
Number of pages11
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety
  • evidence-based therapy
  • exposure therapy
  • primary care behavioral health


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