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View from the front line: Diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems among primary care physicians


A self-selected sample of primary care physicians (general practitioners, family specialists, internists, obstetricians/gynecologists) in a southern county completed structured, precoded questionnaires on a random sample of their patients. Approximately 16% of the patients were diagnosed as having mental health problems. Most common were psychological problems coincidental to somatic disorders rather than psychosomatic or primarily psychological problems. Physicians tended to face and deal with the psychological problems by giving counseling. Drugs were prescribed for less than one-third of those with psychological problems and most of these were counselled as well. Few of these patients were referred to other persons or agencies for care. Neither rates of mental health problems nor treatment of them varied by age, race, sex, marital status, or social class. Age, sex and social class significantly affected various measures of extensiveness of the psychological problems and/or specific diagnosis while race and marital status remained nonsignificant.

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Hiday, V.A. View from the front line: Diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems among primary care physicians. Soc Psychiatry 15, 131–136 (1980).

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  • Public Health
  • Mental Health
  • Primary Care
  • Health Problem
  • Random Sample