Telephone interpersonal counseling treatment for frequent attenders to primary care: Development and piloting

Dana Sinai*, Dana Lassri, Cigale Spira, Joshua D. Lipsitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Frequent attenders in primary care (FAs) consume a disproportionate amount of healthcare resources and often have depression, anxiety, chronic health issues, and interpersonal problems. Despite extensive medical care, they remain dissatisfied with the care and report no improvement in quality of life. Objective: To pilot a Telephone-based Interpersonal Counseling intervention for Frequent Attenders (TIPC-FA) and assess its feasibility and efficacy in reducing symptoms and healthcare utilization. Method: Top 10% of primary care visitors were randomly assigned to TIPC-FA, Telephone Supportive Contact (Support), or Treatment as Usual (TAU). TIPC-FA and Support groups received six telephone sessions over twelve weeks, while the TAU group was interviewed twice. Multilevel regression tested for changes over time, considering patient and counselor variance. Results: TIPC-FA and Support groups demonstrated reduced depressive symptoms, and the TIPC-FA group showed decreased somatization and anxiety. The TIPC-FA group demonstrated a trend towards less healthcare utilization than the TAU group. Conclusion: This pilot study suggests that IPC via telephone outreach is a feasible approach to treating FAs, achieving a reduction in symptoms not seen in other groups. Promising reduction in healthcare utilization in the TIPC-FA group warrants further exploration in larger-scale trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-569
Number of pages15
JournalPsychotherapy Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • depression
  • frequent attenders
  • interpersonal psychotherapy
  • primary care
  • randomized controlled trial
  • somatization


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