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Int J Ment Health Syst. 2018 Oct 26;12:63. doi: 10.1186/s13033-018-0243-x. eCollection 2018.

Mental health knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy among primary care physicians working in the Greater Tunis area of Tunisia.

Author information

1
1School of Public Health, IRSPUM, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC H3N1X9 Canada.
2
2School of Public Health, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC Canada.
3
3Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Montreal, QC Canada.
4
4Montreal WHO-PAHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Mental Health, McGill University, Montreal, QC Canada.
5
5Razi Hospital, University of Tunis El-Manar, Tunis, Tunisia.
6
6Mongi-Slim Hospital, University of Tunis El-Manar, Tunis, Tunisia.

Abstract

Background:

Non-specialists' involvement in mental health care is encouraged in the field of global mental health to address the treatment gap caused by mental illness, especially in low- and middle-income countries. While primary care physicians (PCPs) are involved in mental health care in Tunisia, a lower-middle-income country in North Africa, it is unclear to what extent they are prepared and willing to address mental health problems, substance use disorders, and suicide/self-harm. In this context, we aim (1) to report on mental health knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy among a sample of PCPs working in the Greater Tunis area, prior to the implementation of a mental health training program developed by the World Health Organization; and (2) to identify what characteristics are associated with these competencies.

Methods:

In total, 112 PCPs completed questionnaires related to their socio-demographic and practice characteristics, as well as their mental health knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy. Descriptive analyses and regression models were performed.

Findings:

PCPs had more knowledge about depression, symptoms related to psychosis, and best practices after a suicide attempt; had favourable attitudes about distinctions between physical and mental health, learning about mental health, and the acceptance of colleagues with mental health issues; and believed most in their capabilities related to depression and anxiety. However, most PCPs had less knowledge about substance use disorders and myths about suicide attempts; had unfavorable attitudes about the dangerousness of people with mental health problems, personal disclosure of mental illness, non-specialists' role in assessing mental health problems, and personal recovery; and believed the least in their capabilities related to substance use disorders, suicide/self-harm, and psychosis. Participation in previous mental health training, weekly hours (and weekly hours dedicated to mental health), weekly provision of psychoeducation, and certain work locations were associated with better mental health competencies, whereas mental health knowledge was negatively associated with weekly referrals to specialized services.

Conclusions:

Findings suggest that PCPs in our sample engage in mental health care, but with some gaps in competencies. Mental health training and increased interactions/involvement with people consulting for mental health issues may help further develop non-specialists' mental health competencies, and integrate mental health into primary care settings.

KEYWORDS:

Attitudes; Knowledge; Mental health; Physicians; Primary care; Self-efficacy; Tunisia

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