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Int J Family Med. 2011;2011:490634. doi: 10.1155/2011/490634. Epub 2011 Jul 6.

Help Seeking and Access to Primary Care for People from "Hard-to-Reach" Groups with Common Mental Health Problems.

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  • 1Mental Health and Wellbeing, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Waterhouse Building, Liverpool L69 3GL, UK.


Background. In the UK, most people with mental health problems are managed in primary care. However, many individuals in need of help are not able to access care, either because it is not available, or because the individual's interaction with care-givers deters or diverts help-seeking. Aims. To understand the experience of seeking care for distress from the perspective of potential patients from "hard-to-reach" groups. Methods. A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews, analysed using a thematic framework. Results. Access to primary care is problematic in four main areas: how distress is conceptualised by individuals, the decision to seek help, barriers to help-seeking, and navigating and negotiating services. Conclusion. There are complex reasons why people from "hard-to-reach" groups may not conceptualise their distress as a biomedical problem. In addition, there are particular barriers to accessing primary care when distress is recognised by the person and help-seeking is attempted. We suggest how primary care could be more accessible to people from "hard-to-reach" groups including the need to offer a flexible, non-biomedical response to distress.

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