Mental Health From the Perspective of Primary Care Residents: A Pilot Survey

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Objective: Primary care physicians are increasingly providing psychiatric care in the United States. Unfortunately, there is limited learning opportunity or exposure to psychiatry during their residency training. This survey was conducted to assess primary care resident interaction with mental health professionals and their satisfaction, knowledge, preference, and comfort with the delivery of mental health care in primary health care settings.

Method: On the basis of available published literature, a 20-question survey was formulated. Following receipt of the institutional review board’s approval, these questions were sent via e-mail in February 2012 to internal and family medicine residents (N = 108) at 2 teaching hospitals in southwest Virginia. Analysis of the electronically captured data resulted in a response rate of 32%. Descriptive analysis was used to examine the results.

Results: The responses were equally divided among male and female residents and family medicine and internal medicine residents. There were several interesting findings from the survey. No correlations were noted between the gender of residents, type or location of the medical school, or having had a psychiatric rotation during residency and the reported comfort level treating patients with psychiatric illness or the desire to see psychiatric patients in the future. A positive correlation was found between the residents’ training level and their belief about the percentage of mental health providers who have mental health problems.

Conclusions: The current training model to acclimate primary care residents to the field of mental health appears to have major limitations. Results of this pilot survey can serve as a guide to conduct prospective, multicenter studies to identify and improve psychiatric training for primary care residency programs.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2014;16(4):doi:10.4088/PCC.14m01662