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Title: General practitioners' management of patients with mental health conditions: The views of general practitioners working in rural north-western New South Wales
Contributor(s): Alexander, Christian (author); Fraser, John  (author)
Publication Date: 2008
DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1584.2008.01017.x
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Abstract: Objective: To identify the needs of the region's general practitioners concerning diagnosing, treating and referring patients with mental health disorders and major barriers to the general practitioners' management of these patients. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Subjects: All general practitioners working in rural north-western New South Wales. Measurements: Self-assessed levels of confidence (5-point Likert scale) in diagnosing and treating patients with a mental health condition. Practice data relating to presentation of such patients as well as issues affecting treatment and referral. Results: The three most commonly diagnosed and treated mental health conditions are depression, anxiety and dementia. General practitioners assessed themselves as being confident in diagnosing and treating these three mental health conditions and in diagnosing and treating adults and the elderly. The only form of treatment intervention that the general practitioners self-assessed as being confident in relates to medication. Referrals to mental health specialists were due mostly to patients needing mental health counselling, the general practitioners seeking clarification of diagnosis as well as having insufficient skills to provide the best possible care. Barriers to being able to refer relate mainly to specialist services not being available and/or accessible as well as patients being reluctant to accept such a referral. Conclusion: Our results indicate that other than for depression, anxiety and dementia, efforts to improve the general practitioners' diagnostic and treatment skills and to diagnose and treat adolescents and children are warranted. Up-skilling the general practitioners' ability to confidently use treatment options other than medication are worth considering.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Journal of Rural Health, 16(6), p. 363-369
Publisher: Wiley Interscience for the National Rural Health Alliance
Place of Publication: Bognor Regis, UK
ISSN: 1440-1584
Field of Research (FOR): 111714 Mental Health
111708 Health and Community Services
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 920506 Rural Health
920209 Mental Health Services
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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