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Med J Aust. 2001 Jul 16;175 Suppl:S25-30.

Treatment of common mental disorders in Australian general practice.

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1
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney. ian.hickie@beyondblue.org.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the rates and predictors of treatments for patients with common mental disorders in Australian general practice.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Cross-sectional national audit of general practices throughout Australia in 1998-1999.

PARTICIPANTS:

46 515 ambulatory care patients attending 386 GPs.

SCREENING TOOLS:

Prevalence of common mental disorders--12 items from the 34-item SPHERE self-report questionnaire and associated classification system; pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment provided, as reported by the GPs--questions relating to treatments provided; predictors of treatments--self-report questions about demography for patients and GPs, and about practice organisation for GPs.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

GPs' reported provision of pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments; and patient, GP and practice characteristics predicting treatment provision.

RESULTS:

There were complete data on treatment for 39 983 patients. 27% (10752) of all patients received some form of intervention; 21% (8304) received non-pharmacological and 12% (4765) received pharmacological treatments. Non-pharmacological treatments were mostly non-specific counselling and support (83%; 6892/8304). Among the 10303 patients with the most severe level of psychological disorders, only 50% (5152) received any intervention (38% [3872] received non-pharmacological and 27% [2766] pharmacological treatments). Evidence-based treatments were provided to only 12% (4961) of all patients (and only 27% [2802] of the 10303 with the most severe disorders). Although the newer antidepressant agents were commonly prescribed, older medications (mainly tricyclic antidepressants) were prescribed to older (OR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.07-1.56), less educated (OR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.12-1.79) and female (OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.23-1.70) patients. Among the 8304 patients receiving non-pharmacological treatments, specific (evidence-based) treatments were provided to only 17% (1412); these patients were typically middle-aged (OR, 2.94; 95% CI, 2.32-3.73) and the providing GPs were typically not in full-time practice (OR, 3.34; 95% CI, 2.56-4.17).

CONCLUSION:

Practitioners largely provide non-specific, non-pharmacological interventions for patients with common mental disorders. Even among those with the most severe disorders, only a minority receive pharmacological or specific evidence-based non-pharmacological treatments.

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PMID:
11556432
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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