'It puts things out of your control': fear of consequences as a barrier to patient disclosure of mental health issues to general practitioners

Sociol Health Illn. 2007 Nov;29(7):1059-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2007.01022.x.


Research indicates that there is a high level of trust in health professionals but also a high level of non-disclosure of mental health issues to general practitioners (GPs). This paper explores the issue of patients' willingness to disclose mental health problems to GPs through interviews with 33 patients from the lower half of the North Island of New Zealand. Patients' willingness to disclose related to a range of factors but this paper focuses on fear and sense of control as these issues have received little attention in the extant literature and provide important discussion points for the conduct of consultations. Fear of the consequences of consultation warrants attention if general practice is to be promoted as the preferred point of contact for mental health consultations. The research reported here suggests that trust in a range of institutions and agencies, not just in the individual practitioner, would need to be achieved for the GP to be the preferred point of contact.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disclosure*
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • New Zealand
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sociology, Medical