This study investigated the differences in attitudes towards mental health patients between primary care physicians (PCPs) who have received postgraduate training in community mental health and those who have not. A questionnaire regarding the PCPs’ attitudes towards mental health care in general, and specifically on depression and schizophrenia, was designed to compare the attitudes between the PCPs with postgraduate training in community mental health (CMH group) and those without (non-CMH group). Besides having greater confidence in management, PCPs in the CMH group had less stigmatizing opinions towards the mental health patients than those in the non-CMH group. Differences between the two groups were mostly shown in the case for depression but not for schizophrenia. The proportion of PCPs who liked to have depressed patients on their practice list was significantly higher in the CMH group (94 vs 71 %), and their satisfaction rate in looking after depressed patients was also significantly higher than the non-CMH group (87 vs 59 %).
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The work described in this paper was fully supported by a grant from the Committee on Research and Conference Grants of the University of Hong Kong.
Conflict of interest
The authors report no conflict of interest.
The training curriculum
Once a week on weekday afternoon
Once a week on weekday afternoon
Designed to enrich students with theoretical and update knowledge of common psychological problems with specific reference to their diagnosis and management
Twenty seminars on topics related to common psychological problems and psychotherapy:
The seminars adopt a problem orientated approach. A family physician with special interest in psychological problems pairs up with a psychiatrist to conduct the seminars
Designed to equip students with practical training in interviewing and management skills of patients with common psychological problems
Eight case discussion sessions:
Students are divided into small groups to present their clinical cases to their specialist tutors for discussion and clinical management
Five clinical training sessions in psychotherapy:
Students are attached to clinical units at participating hospitals for psychotherapy training
Seven clinical teaching sessions by specialist clinicians:
Students are attached to psychiatric and primary care outpatient clinics and rehabilitation facilities for their clinical training
Case commentary and written examination
Case Vignette of Schizophrenia
Patient Y is 20 years old. You have known Y for 1 year, who visited your clinic twice for common cold. This time Y comes with mother. Over the last few weeks Y has trouble sleeping nearly every night. Y complains that the neighbour always makes noises at night to disturb Y. Y has also mentioned the neighbour has spied upon Y. Y’s mother has heard Y shouting and arguing in bedroom alone, as if someone else is there. It appears that Y may suffer from symptoms of schizophrenia.
Case Vignette of Depression
Patient Z is 20 years old. You have known Z for 1 year, who visited your clinic twice for common cold. This time Z comes with mother. Over the last few weeks Z has trouble sleeping nearly every night, even though Z is tired all the time. Z has no appetite and has lost weight. Z has been feeling unusually sad, cannot concentrate and puts off making decisions. It appears that Z may suffer from symptoms of depression.
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Lam, T.P., Lam, K.F., Lam, E.W.W. et al. Does Postgraduate Training in Community Mental Health Make a Difference to Primary Care Physicians’ Attitudes to Depression and Schizophrenia?. Community Ment Health J 51, 641–646 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-015-9829-9