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Med J Aust. 2004 Oct 4;181(7 Suppl):S15-20.

General practitioners' response to depression and anxiety in the Australian community: a preliminary analysis.

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Brain & Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, NSW 2039, Australia.



To examine the uptake by general practitioners (GPs) of the five key components of the Better Outcomes in Mental Health Care (BOiMHC) initiative: education and training for GPs; the three-step mental health process; focussed psychological strategies; access to allied health services; and access to psychiatrist support.


All Australian states and territories during the first 15 months of the initiative (1 July 2002 - 30 September 2003).


Retrospective survey of de-identified registration data held by the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (training uptake), de-identified Health Insurance Commission (HIC) billing data (provision of the three-step mental health process, focussed psychological strategies and case conferences with psychiatrists), and reports from "access to allied health services" projects to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing (project participation).


Number and percentage of Australian GPs certified as eligible to participate in the initiative; provision of the three-step mental health process and focussed psychological strategies by GPs; participation in allied health pilot projects; and access to psychiatrist support.


Within 15 months of the BOiMHC initiative commencing, 3046 GPs (about 15% of Australian GPs) had been certified as eligible to participate, including 387 who had registered to provide focussed psychological strategies. GPs had completed 11 377 three-step mental health processes and 6472 sessions of focussed psychological strategies. Sixty-nine "access to allied health services" projects had been funded, with the original 15 pilot projects enabling 346 GPs to refer 1910 consumers to 134 individual allied health professionals and 10 agencies. In contrast, the "access to psychiatrist support" component was less successful, with the HIC billed for 62 case conferences at which a psychiatrist and a GP were present.


The level of uptake of the main components of the BOiMHC initiative has expanded the national capacity to respond to the needs of people with common mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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