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How ready are practice nurses to participate in the identification and management of depressed patients in primary care?

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Background Practice nurses (PNs) see increasing numbers of patients with mental health problems, but previous studies have highlighted gaps in relevant competencies in primary care staff.

Aim To determine PNs' knowledge, attitudes, training and current practice with respect to depressed patients.

Method Postal survey of PNs in one-in-two sample of Scottish general practices.

Results From 428 practices, 442 of 786 PNs (56.2%) responded. While they reported seeing significant numbers of depressed patients, 82% felt they lacked adequate knowledge and training. Specific gaps in knowledge were found. Only one in four had attended post-qualification mental health training. PNs rated mental health training as a lower priority than areas of physical illness in which they had already received more training.

Conclusions PNs are not, and do not feel, fully prepared to work with depressed patients, but may not be motivated to acquire the necessary further skills. Appropriate training courses should be developed and evaluated.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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