What prevents GPs from using outside resources for women experiencing depression? A New Zealand study

Fam Pract. 2001 Feb;18(1):84-6. doi: 10.1093/fampra/18.1.84.


Background: GPs, often the 'gatekeepers' to mental health and related support services, have been found to refer on less often than seems desirable.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore what issues GPs would discuss with, and which treatments and support services they would consider for, depressed women; and to investigate barriers to referrals to other resources.

Methods: All (217) GPs in one region of Auckland received questionnaires with a vignette and quantitative and qualitative questions concerning their responses to women experiencing depression. Twelve of the 86 respondents were interviewed.

Results: GPs wanted to know about a range of medical, psychological and social issues. The solutions valued were biological and psychological, with some also favouring social interventions, such as assistance with childcare. However, the GPs reported limited referrals to outside resources, and frequent use of medication, because of the high cost and limited availability of psychological treatment, and difficulties accessing practical help.

Conclusions: This sample of GPs support improved accessibility, availability and affordability of psychological treatments and support services.

MeSH terms

  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Medical History Taking
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Referral and Consultation / economics
  • Referral and Consultation / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires