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Med Teach. 2009 Jul;31(7):e279-86.

Teaching psychiatric diagnostics to general practitioners: Educational methods and their perceived efficacy.

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University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Psychiatric disorders are hard to detect in a primary care setting. The vocational training for general practitioners (GPs) of the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, intends to create a new comprehensive programme on diagnosing psychiatric disorders.


We consulted the literature to obtain an answer to the question: is evidence available for the effectiveness of specific educational methods to teach GP trainees psychiatric diagnostic skills?


We searched in four databases for studies on a variety of search terms (39) referring to primary care, psychiatry, diagnosis, education and quality. As selection criterium for outcome measure we took change in diagnostic competence.


From a number of 769 articles 27 methodologically sound studies remained. This article presents several of their research characteristics. No conclusive evidence has been found for the effectivity of an isolated educational method. The combination of methods seems promising. However, no specific mix of methods is a guarantee for success.


We made some recommendations for training psychiatric diagnostic competency. The literature endorses our own idea that education in this field should include reflection on attitude and barriers.

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