How primary care physicians treat psychiatric disorders: a national survey of family practitioners

Am J Psychiatry. 1985 Jan;142(1):52-7. doi: 10.1176/ajp.142.1.52.


A survey of 350 family practice physicians nationwide showed that 22.6% of their patients had significant psychiatric disorders. Physicians reported treating most psychiatric problems themselves, usually through a combination of psychotropic drugs, advice, and reassurance. The results suggest that anxiolytics are more conservatively used and referrals for mental health care more often made than past studies indicate. Physicians cited patient resistance and time limitations as the most important barriers to primary care mental health treatment, followed by limited third-party payment for mental health services, poor coordination between the primary care and mental health care sectors, and insufficient training to treat psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Community Mental Health Services
  • Counseling
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Psychotropic Drugs