Background: The common mental disorders of depression and anxiety often remain undetected in general practice. Psychiatric screening instruments have been recommended to assist detection.
Aim: To assess patients' attitudes towards the use of psychiatric screening questionnaires for common mental disorders within general practice.
Design: Twenty focus groups comprising 127 patients were conducted in Wales, UK. The groups were distinguished by age, sex and locality.
Results: The majority of respondents felt that the use of a screening questionnaire was acceptable and would be willing to complete one within a general practice setting. However, a number of individuals expressed concern about the validity of the kinds of questions asked and the usefulness of the instrument in practice. Respondents also discussed their concerns relating to issues of confidentiality and the doctor's response to the assessment.
Conclusion: The study indicates that lay beliefs towards mental illness, particularly relating to perceived stigma, will continue to pose problems for the routine use of psychiatric case-finding questionnaires within general practice.