Mental disorders and referrals to mental health specialists by general practitioners

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 1999 Mar;34(3):128-35. doi: 10.1007/s001270050123.


In a population study we analysed psychiatric help-seeking directed to general practitioners (GPs) and looked at who was referred to and received treatment from psychiatrists or psychologists. A random sample of 2015 persons were interviewed on a large number of variables, of which five groups were used in logistic regression analysis to find what accounted for (1) help-seeking addressed to GPs, (2) prior (not during the last 12 months) referral from GPs to, and treatment from, a psychiatrist or psychologist, and (3) current specialist referral/treatment (referral to/treatment from a psychiatrist/psychologist in the last 12 months). A total of 38 variables were covered in the areas of demographics, social support, life events and general well-being, and mental health (HSCL-25), with six personality-related variables. The conclusions are: (1) The strongest predictor of former and current help-seeking was high current symptom rating (HSCL-25). (2) Demographic variables played a limited role in explaining help-seeking. (3) Personality-related variables played a more important role in the referral/treatment groups than most demographic variables. Compared with those not being referred, people currently seeing or having seen a psychiatrist/psychologist described themselves as easily worried, but at the same time having an attitude of speaking out and of not accepting a below-par life situation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Family Practice / organization & administration
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Personality*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / organization & administration
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Random Allocation
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • Social Support