Data Unclear On Ability Of General Practitioners To Give Psychosocial Help

Armen Hareyan's picture
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General Practitioners

When patients have psychosocial problems such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse, a general practice doctor is often the first health care professional they see.

A new review of studies examines how well GPs treat these conditions.

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"We found no strong evidence for either the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of the psychosocial interventions by GPs," wrote the review team from the Netherlands. "Of the interventions reviewed, problem-solving treatment for depression seems the most promising tool for GPs, although its effectiveness in daily practice remains to be seen."

Problem-solving treatment is a type of talk therapy. The goal is to help patients understand that their symptoms are caused by everyday problems and to teach them ways to tackle these problems.

The review appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

"Many patients visit their GP because of problems that are psychosocial in origin," according to the team led by Marcus Huibers, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Psychological Services at Maastricht University. "Consequently, GPs could benefit from tools to help those patients."

In the United States, a patient's primary care physician is often a GP

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