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J R Coll Gen Pract. 1988 Dec;38(317):539-41.

Group therapy in a general practice setting for frequent attenders: a controlled study of mothers with pre-school children.


The frequent attendance of women suffering from anxiety and depression is a common problem in general practice and the problems are often externalized through the women's children. A small controlled study was carried out in a general practice surgery to see whether demand for medical attention by mothers of pre-school children would decrease after they attended a discussion group. Twenty women who fulfilled the study criteria of more than double the national average consultation rate for their age group and of having at least one pre-school child, were sequentially allocated to a treatment or control group. The group therapy was held over two terms of 10 sessions, each of 90 minutes, and was led by a psychologist and a general practitioner. Consultation rates (including surgery visits, house calls and prescription requests) were recorded for five consecutive six-month periods before and after the intervention. At follow-up six months after the end of the treatment a significant reduction in consultation rate had been achieved and maintained by the treated group compared with the controls (P<0.01). This study shows the value of attending to the cause of frequent consultation as well as to the complaints presented.

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