General Practitioners' Attitudes Toward a Web-Based Mental Health Service for Adolescents: Implications for Service Design and Delivery

JMIR Hum Factors. 2018 Mar 23;5(1):e12. doi: 10.2196/humanfactors.8913.


Background: Anxiety disorders and depression are prevalent among youth. General practitioners (GPs) are often the first point of professional contact for treating health problems in young people. A Web-based mental health service delivered in partnership with schools may facilitate increased access to psychological care among adolescents. However, for such a model to be implemented successfully, GPs' views need to be measured.

Objective: This study aimed to examine the needs and attitudes of GPs toward a Web-based mental health service for adolescents, and to identify the factors that may affect the provision of this type of service and likelihood of integration. Findings will inform the content and overall service design.

Methods: GPs were interviewed individually about the proposed Web-based service. Qualitative analysis of transcripts was performed using thematic coding. A short follow-up questionnaire was delivered to assess background characteristics, level of acceptability, and likelihood of integration of the Web-based mental health service.

Results: A total of 13 GPs participated in the interview and 11 completed a follow-up online questionnaire. Findings suggest strong support for the proposed Web-based mental health service. A wide range of factors were found to influence the likelihood of GPs integrating a Web-based service into their clinical practice. Coordinated collaboration with parents, students, school counselors, and other mental health care professionals were considered important by nearly all GPs. Confidence in Web-based care, noncompliance of adolescents and GPs, accessibility, privacy, and confidentiality were identified as potential barriers to adopting the proposed Web-based service.

Conclusions: GPs were open to a proposed Web-based service for the monitoring and management of anxiety and depression in adolescents, provided that a collaborative approach to care is used, the feedback regarding the client is clear, and privacy and security provisions are assured.

Keywords: adolescent; anxiety; depression; general practitioners; internet.