Problem-solving treatment: evidence for effectiveness and feasibility in primary care

Int J Psychiatry Med. 1996;26(3):249-62. doi: 10.2190/0HVY-CD2F-0KC7-FVTB.


Objective: There is a need for psychological treatments for psychiatric disorders in primary care. The purpose of this article is to review studies of problem-solving treatment (PST). PST is a brief psychological treatment for emotional symptoms in primary care patients.

Method: A series of different studies of primary care patients in Oxford are reviewed.

Results: In primary care, PST is effective for patients with major depression and for patients with more broadly defined emotional disorders. PST can be effectively delivered in primary care settings by psychiatrists, general practitioners, or nurses. PST may be more expensive than primary care practitioners' usual treatment in terms of direct costs. However, PST might result in greater savings if indirect costs are also considered.

Conclusions: PST is a feasible, brief, effective treatment for mental disorders of mild to moderate severity in primary care. Replication studies and further research on combination treatments, long-term outcomes, and indirect costs are indicated.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amitriptyline / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / therapeutic use
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Depressive Disorder / economics
  • Depressive Disorder / nursing
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Family Practice
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / economics
  • Mental Disorders / nursing
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / economics
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods*
  • United Kingdom


  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Amitriptyline