Difficult-to-Treat-Depression—Perceptions of GPs and GP Trainees


Introduction: GPs are often the first contact point for mental health concerns. Training to qualify as a GP involves completing a three-to-four year program. Among other things, the training program may include a six-hour mental health training workshop. The study’s purpose was to compare GPs’ and Trainees’ perceptions of difficult-to-treat-depression (DTTD). Methods: Using a semi-structured interview schedule comprising six questions, 10 GPs and six Trainees participated in focus groups or telephone interview. To understand participants’ perspectives, data were analyzed using the Framework Method. Findings: Trainees were less clear than GPs about the meaning of DTTD and other diagnostic terms. GPs’ diagnosis included querying diagnosis and treatment options. Trainees’ experience was limited but they raised barriers including non-response to various treatment trials. Both groups identified management difficulties including: doctor shopping, suicide risk, patients not being well informed; with management difficulties exacerbated by limited access/referring to health professionals, cost and/or unavailability of bulk billing. While some GPs and Trainees had heard of an illness management model or chronic illness model, few used a model. Most reported limited referring to psychiatrists, mainly because of cost and/or limited availability. GPs were more likely to refer to other health professionals and use pharmacological and complementary therapies. Both groups discussed the impact of external factors including cultural factors, patient compliance, treatment failure, and the importance of the relationship between the patient and the professional. Trainees were more likely to stress the importance local clinical guidelines. Discussion and Conclusion: Despite the small size and limited nature, this research provides insight into some of the similarities and differences of GPs’ and Trainees’ experiences and understanding of DTTD. This may have implications for training providers, clinical supervisors and Trainees, and suggests that enhancement in the role of mental health training may be relevant.

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Jones, K. , Piterman, L. and Spike, N. (2014) Difficult-to-Treat-Depression—Perceptions of GPs and GP Trainees. Open Journal of Psychiatry, 4, 228-237. doi: 10.4236/ojpsych.2014.43029.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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