ABSTRACT: Common mental health problems are mainly treated in primary care settings and collaboration with mental health services is needed. Prior to re-organisation of the mental health care offer in a geographical area, a study was organized: 1) to evaluate GPs' opinions on their day-to-day practice with Patients with Mental Health Problems (PMHP) and on relationships with Mental Health Professionals (MHPro); 2) to identify factors associated with perceived need for collaboration with MHPro and with actual collaboration.
All GPs in the South Yvelines area in France (n = 492) were informed of the implementation of a local mental health program. GPs interested in taking part (n = 180) were invited to complete a satisfaction questionnaire on their practice in the field of Mental Health and to include prospectively all PMHP consultants over an 8-day period (n = 1519). For each PMHP, data was collected on demographic and clinical profile, and on needs (met v. unmet) for collaboration with MHPro.
A majority of GPs rated PMHP as requiring more care (83.4%), more time (92.3%), more frequent consultations (64.0%) and as being more difficult to refer (87.7%) than other patients. A minority of GPs had a satisfactory relationship with private psychiatrists (49.5%), public psychiatrists (35%) and social workers (27.8%). 53.9% had a less satisfactory relationship with MHPro than with other physicians. Needs for collaboration with a MHPro were more often felt in caring for PMHP who were young, not in employment, with mental health problems lasting for more than one year, with a history of psychiatric hospitalization, and showing reluctance to talk of psychological problems and to consult a MHPro. Needs for collaboration were more often met among PMHP with past psychiatric consultation or hospitalization and when the patient was not reluctant to consult a MHPro. Where needs were not met, GP would opt for the classic procedure of mental health referral for only 31.3% of their PMHP.
GPs need targeted collaboration with MHPro to support their management of PMHP, whom they are willing to care for without systematic referral to specialists as the major therapeutic option.
BMC Family Practice 06/2005; 6(1):18. · 1.80 Impact Factor