Strategies Used by Interprofessional Teams to Counter Healthcare Marginalization and Engage Complex Patients

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Low-income U.S. patients with co-occurring behavioral and physical health conditions often struggle to obtain highquality health care. The health and sociocultural resources of such “complex” patients are misaligned with expectations in most medical settings, which ask patients to mobilize forms of these assets common among healthier and wealthier populations. Thus, complex patients encounter barriers to engagement with their health behaviors and health care providers, resulting in poor outcomes. But this outcome is not inevitable. This study uses in-depth interviews with two interprofessional primary care teams and surveys of all six teams in a complex patient program to examine strategies for improving patient engagement. Five primary care team strategies are identified. While team member burnout was a common byproduct, professional support offered by the team structure reduced this effect. Team perspectives offer insight into mechanisms of improvement and the professional burdens and benefits of efforts to counter health care marginalization among complex patients.