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How well do Australian medical schools prepare general practitioners to care for patients with mental disorders?

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 The purpose of the present paper was to map the mental health workloads of general practitioners (GPs) , and to determine GPs’ views of the adequacy of their undergraduate training in psychiatry. Methods:

 Twenty-nine GPs who had graduated since 1980 from an Australian medical school provided data on 339 consecutive adult patients with conspicuous psychological disorders. After listing their patients’ problems and management plans, doctors rated the value of their undergraduate teaching in preparing them for this task. Results:

 Depression, anxiety and substance abuse accounted for 71% of reported cases. Virtually all patients were given some psychologically orientated treatment. Only half were prescribed a psychotropic medication. Nineteen of the 29 doctors wished that they had received more training in counselling. Conclusions:

 In an earlier survey it was found that Australian and New Zealand medical school curricula focused largely on the diagnosis and pharmacological management of psychosis and depression. The GPs in the present study most commonly applied psychologically orientated treatments of anxiety, depression and substance abuse. It is proposed that medical schools provide tuition to medical students in counselling.

Keywords: counselling; medical school; mental disorder; primary care; university

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2004


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