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BMC Psychiatry. 2002 May 8;2:5.

Psychosocial primary care - what patients expect from their General Practitioners A cross-sectional trial.

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  • 1Department of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University Hospital Freiburg, Germany, Hauptstr, 8, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.



Psychosocial Primary Care (PPC) is a model of service delivery for patients with mental disorders and psychosocial problems which was established in Germany in 1987. This study was performed as part of the evaluation of a PPC training program. We investigated patients' expectations of the psychosocial treatment offered by GPs trained in PPC.


Ten general practitioners trained in PPC were randomly selected. Two hundred and twenty patients were surveyed in the waiting room regarding their expectations concerning psychological treatment.


Eighty-five per cent of patients could envisage making use of psychosocial treatments. Counselling by the GP was considered most important (65%). Fifty-four per cent of patients indicated that there was sufficient counselling, but further distinctions revealed dissatisfaction with both the extent and content of the counselling. Lack of time was the most frequent reason (53%) cited for insufficient counselling. A willingness to discuss the psychological aspects of illness was exhibited by between 55% (current illness) and 79% of patients. Two-thirds of patients believed that discussing psychological aspects and counselling by the doctor could exert a healing effect or contribute to symptomatic improvement in physical illnesses. Younger patients and patients with experience in psychotherapy expected referral to mental health services.


Primary care patients desire and accept psychological treatment from their GP. Training in psychosocial competence in primary care should be offered more frequently.

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