Improving patient return to general practice after specialist assessment

Australas Psychiatry. 2011 Jun;19(3):236-9. doi: 10.3109/10398562.2010.540247.


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a two-pronged, letter intervention strategy to improve the follow-up after referral (FAR) rate to general practitioners of patients referred for a psychiatric assessment.

Methods: The FAR rate of patients referred to the Inner South East Primary Mental Health Team (PMHT) between June 2007 and June 2008 was examined via telephone call, before and after the implementation of a process sending letters to patients and practice managers advising them to make an appointment to discuss recommendations resulting from the psychiatric assessment.

Results: A statistically significant improvement (χ² (1, n = 44) = 5.81, p = 0.016) in FAR rate was observed for patients post-intervention, with 11/25 (44%) pre-intervention patients not returning to their referring general practitioner within 1 month of assessment, compared to 2/19 (10.5%) patients post-intervention.

Conclusions: The implementation of two simple and inexpensive measures resulted in a fourfold improvement in the return rate of patients to their referring general practitioner post-psychiatric assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Specialization*