3 years ago

Rural and Remote General Practitioners’ Perceptions of Psychologists

Carly Rose Sutherland, Anna Chur-Hansen, Helen Winefield
Objective As the first professional contact for most Australians with mental health concerns, general practitioners (GPs) are often considered the “gateway” to accessing psychologists. Understanding GPs’ views of psychologists is therefore of great importance to the profession. GPs serve a particularly important role in mental health in rural and remote areas given the lack of other services; however there has been limited research investigating the relationship between psychologists and GPs in rural areas. This study aimed to investigate rural GPs’ perceptions of rural psychologists. Method Semi-structured qualitative telephone and in-person interviews were conducted with 13 GPs working in rural and remote South Australia. Data were analysed thematically. Results Three main themes were identified: Psychologists are useful/helpful; working with psychologists can be challenging; and psychologists are not well understood. Rural GPs held mostly positive views about psychologists and their value in providing professional support and reducing GP workloads. However, GPs’ understanding of psychologists’ training and expertise varied considerably, with most reporting gaps in their knowledge. Challenges included limited access to psychologists and communication barriers. Communication was considered to be enhanced by co-locating psychology services within the GP practice, which was also considered to be a valuable educational opportunity for GPs. Conclusion While rural GPs held largely positive views of psychologists, they may require further support in understanding what psychologists can offer and promoting psychology to their patients. Results may assist in improving communication between rural psychologists and GPs and inform strategies to improve rural GPs’ understanding of psychologists’ skills and training.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/ap.12295

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