Teaching Family Physicians About Mood Disorders: A Procedure Suite for Behavioral Medicine

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Background and Objectives: One of the skills required of family physicians is the ability to recognize and treat individuals suffering from mood disorders. This study represents an interdisciplinary residency training approach that (1) is unique in family practice residencies; (2) trains faculty, residents, and students in mood disorder recognition and treatment; (3) has been evaluated by the Residency Review Committee and found compatible with psychiatry training guidelines; and (4) is adaptable to varied settings.

Method: Existing psychiatric education at an urban family practice residency program was evaluated. A new curriculum was developed to emphasize clinical interactions that would allow residents to model the behavior of family physicians who demonstrate interest and expertise in psychiatry. The centerpiece of this curriculum is a family-physician-led, multidisciplinary, in-house consultation service known as a mood disorders clinic (MDC). Educational effectiveness was evaluated by comparing resident identification rates of mood disorders before and after training. Educational utility was evaluated by implementation in a variety of settings.

Results: Fifty-one residents rotated through 1 or more of 3 practice sites during a 60-month period. Psychiatric diagnoses for the 187 patients who remained in treatment for complete clinical assessment included all major mood and anxiety disorders outlined in the DSM-IV. A wide variety of associated psychosocial problems were also identified. A significant difference (p < .05) was seen between the number of continuity patients diagnosed with psychiatric conditions by resident physicians before and after the training experience.

Conclusion: Implementation of this intensive training experience resulted in subjective as well as objective enhancement of resident education by providing an intensive, focused educational experience in primary care psychiatry. This concept is adaptable to a variety of practice sites and educational levels. The MDC could become the hub of an integrated delivery system for mental health services in an ambulatory primary care setting.

Primary Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 1999;1(1):18-23

https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.v01n0105