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BMC Fam Pract. 2010 Apr 28;11:30. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-11-30.

Recognizing and managing anxiety disorders in primary health care in Turkey.

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Family Medicine Department of Dokuz Eylul University, 35340, Inciralti, Izmir, Turkey.



Anxiety disorders are common and are frequently not diagnosed accurately in primary care. Our aim was to determine the knowledge gaps of general practitioners (GPs) in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders by using vignettes.


A cross-sectional survey was completed with 255 primary care physicians (response rate 59.4%) in Manisa, a city in western Turkey. From the postal questionnaire, information on working experience, postgraduate education in psychiatry, the interests of the physicians in psychiatry were obtained. The physicians' diagnosis and treatment preferences for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social phobia (SP), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) were determined through clinical vignettes prepared for data collection.


Two hundred and twenty-seven (89.0%) out of 255 GPs included the diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder in their differential diagnosis; however, the rates for social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder were 69.4% (n = 177) and 22.3% (n = 57), respectively. GPs with a post-graduate education on psychiatry diagnosed vignettes more accurately for OCD (p = 0.04). For all three cases, GPs mostly preferred a combination therapy including psychotherapy and psycho-pharmacotherapy. The referral rate to a psychiatrist was between 23.1 and 30.6%. The percentages of the prescription of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) in accurate diagnosis were 59.3 for social phobia, 33.3 for GAD, and 55.5 for OCD.


There is a gap of knowledge in GPs, which leads to poor recognition and management of anxiety disorders in primary care. Effective interventions including post-graduate education and updated guidelines on anxiety disorders should be planned and implemented with their assessments by vignettes.

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