Latvian Family Physicians’ Experience and Attitude in Diagnosing and Managing Depression

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Depression is among the most common mental disorders in primary care. Despite high prevalence rates it remains to be under-diagnosed in primary care settings over the world. This study was aimed to identify Latvian family physicians’ (FPs) experience and attitude in diagnosing and managing depression. It was carried out within the framework of the National Research Programme BIOMEDICINE 2014–2017. After educational seminars on diagnosing and managing depression, FPs were asked to complete a structured questionnaire. In total 216 respondents were recruited. Most of the doctors, or 72.2% (n = 156), agreed with the statement that patients with depression use primary care facilities more often than other patients. More than a half of physicians, or 66.3% (n = 143) quite often asked their patients about their psycho-emotional status and 65.7% (n = 142) of clinicians thought that they can successfully assess a patient’s psychoemotional status and possible mental disorders. The majority, or 91.6 % (n = 198), supposed that routine screening for depression is necessary in Latvia. Despite the fact that a significant number, or 62.6% (n = 135) of FPs thought that their practice was well suitable for the treatment of depressive patients, half of the respondents, or 50.9% (n = 110), assessed their ability to build a trustful contact and to motivate patients for treatment as moderate. Although FPs acknowledged the importance and necessity to treat depression, current knowledge and management approaches were far from optimal. This justifies the need to provide specific training programmes for FPs.

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