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Int J Psychiatry Med. 2011;42(2):133-49.

What do primary care doctors get out of a year-long postgraduate course in community psychological medicine?

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The University of Hong Kong.



There are increasing expectations on primary care doctors to care for patients with common mental health problems. This study examines the outcomes of a postgraduate training course in psychological medicine for primary care doctors.


A questionnaire developed by the research team was sent to the Course graduates (year 2003-2007). A retrospective design was adopted to compare their clinical practice characteristics before and after the Course. Differences in the ratings by the respondents before and after the Course were analyzed using the nonparametric Wilcoxon signed rank test.


Sixty-nine graduates replied with a response rate of 58.5% (69/118). Most respondents were confident of diagnosing (96.9%) and managing (97.0%) common mental health problems after the Course, compared to 50.0% and 50.7%, respectively, before the Course. Most graduates had modified their approach, increased their attention and empathy to patients with mental health problems. The percentage of respondents having enough time to treat these patients had increased from 55.8% to 72.1%. The median number of patients with mental health problems seen per week was in the range of 3-6 before, and had increased to the range of 7-10 after the Course. The proportion of respondents being confident of making appropriate referrals had increased from 72.8% to 97.0%, while the number of referrals to psychiatrists had dropped significantly.


The Course is effective in improving graduates' confidence, attitude, and skills in treating patients with common mental health problems. There are significant increases in the number of mental health patients handled, increased confidence in making referrals to psychiatrists, and decreased percentage of patients being referred.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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