Background: Although depressive and anxious symptoms negatively impact musculoskeletal health and orthopedic outcomes, a gap remains in identifying modalities through which mental health intervention can realistically be delivered during orthopedic care. The purpose of this study was to understand orthopedic stakeholders’ perceptions regarding the feasibility, acceptability, and usability of digital, printed, and in-person intervention modalities to address mental health as part of orthopedic care. Methods: This single-center, qualitative study was conducted within a tertiary care orthopedic department. Semi-structured interviews were conducted between January and May 2022. Two stakeholder groups were interviewed using a purposive sampling approach until thematic saturation was reached. The first group included adult orthopedic patients who presented for management of ≥ 3 months of neck or back pain. The second group included early, mid, and late career orthopedic clinicians and support staff members. Stakeholders’ interview responses were analyzed using deductive and inductive coding approaches followed by thematic analysis. Patients also performed usability testing of one digital and one printed mental health intervention. Results: Patients included 30 adults out of 85 approached (mean (SD) age 59 [14] years, 21 (70%) women, 12 (40%) non-White). Clinical team stakeholders included 22 orthopedic clinicians and support staff members out of 25 approached (11 (50%) women, 6 (27%) non-White). Clinical team members perceived a digital mental health intervention to be feasible and scalable to implement, and many patients appreciated that the digital modality offered privacy, immediate access to resources, and the ability to engage during non-business hours. However, stakeholders also expressed that a printed mental health resource is still necessary to meet the needs of patients who prefer and/or can only engage with tangible, rather than digital, mental health resources. Many clinical team members expressed skepticism regarding the current feasibility of scalably incorporating in-person support from a mental health specialist into orthopedic care. Conclusions: Although digital intervention offers implementation-related advantages over printed and in-person mental health interventions, a subset of often underserved patients will not currently be reached using exclusively digital intervention. Future research should work to identify combinations of effective mental health interventions that provide equitable access for orthopedic patients. Trial registration: Not applicable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number347
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Anxiety
  • Chronic musculoskeletal pain
  • Depression
  • Digital divide
  • Digital mental health intervention
  • Equity
  • Feasibility
  • Implementation
  • Usability


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