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Med Educ. 2007 Jan;41(1):100-8.

Teaching undergraduate psychiatry in primary care: the impact on student learning and attitudes.

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  • 1Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK.



To explore the impact of undergraduate psychiatry placements in primary care settings on students' learning and attitudes to mental illness.


Questionnaire survey and qualitative in-depth interviews.


A primary care-based psychiatry undergraduate teaching programme at Royal Free and University College Medical School, London.


A total of 145/183 (79.2%) students attending the primary care-based programme over 2 academic years completed a questionnaire survey. In-depth interviews were conducted with 14 students, 12 general practitioner (GP) tutors and 20 patients participating in the course.


In the questionnaire survey, 121/144 (84.0%) students valued the primary care-based teaching highly. In total, 87/139 (62.6%) students felt their attitudes to mental illness had changed as a result of the course. In-depth interviews demonstrated 4 key benefits of the teaching programme: increasing breadth of experience, understanding the patients' experience, learning about mental illness from a GP's perspective and changing students' attitudes towards mental illness. The students' attitudinal shift comprised 2 main dimensions; 'normalisation' of mental illness and increased empathy.


Learning psychiatry in primary care settings offers students a broader experience of a range of patients than in hospital settings and encourages a 'person-centred' approach, which in turn can have a positive impact on their attitudes to mental illness, reducing stereotyping and increasing empathy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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