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J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2004 Oct;11(5):514-24.

Primary health care practitioners' tools for mental health care.

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  • 1Research Unit of Pirkanmaa Nursing District, Department of Nursing Science, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.


The purpose of this study was to describe and analyse the content of mental health care from the practitioner's point of view. The specific aim of this paper was to outline the types of mental health care tools and the ways in which they are used by primary health care practitioners. The data were derived from interviews with doctors and nurses (n = 29) working in primary health care in six different health care centres of the Pirkanmaa region in Finland. The data were analysed by using qualitative content analysis. The tools of mental health care used in primary health care were categorized as communicative, ideological, technical and collaborative tools. The interactive tools are either informative, supportive or contextual. The ideological tools consist of patient initiative, acceptance and permissiveness, honesty and genuineness, sense of security and client orientation. The technical tools are actions related to the monitoring of the patient's physical health and medical treatment. The collaborative tools are consultation and family orientation. The primary health care practitioner him/herself is an important tool in mental health care. On the one hand, the practitioner can be categorized as a meta-tool who has control over the other tools. On the other hand, the practitioner him/herself is a tool in the sense that s/he uses his/her personality in the professional context. The professional skills and attitudes of the practitioner have a significant influence on the type of caring the client receives. Compared with previous studies, the present informants from primary health care seemed to use notably versatile tools in mental health work. This observation is important for the implementation and development of mental health practices and education.

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