Primary care Physicians’ perspective on the management of anxiety and depressive disorders: a cross-sectional survey in Emilia Romagna Region

Background

Evidences from literature suggest that Primary Care Physicians’ (PCPs) knowledge and attitude about psychological and pharmacological treatments of anxiety and depressive disorders could influence their clinical practice. The aim of the study is double: 1) to assess PCPs’ opinions about antidepressants (ADs) and psychotherapy for the management of anxiety and depressive disorders; 2) to evaluate the influence of PCPs’ gender, age, duration of clinical practice, and office location on their opinions and attitudes.



Methods

This cross-sectional multicentre survey involved 816 PCPs working in four Local Health Units of the Emilia Romagna Region. Participating PCPs were asked to complete a questionnaire during educational meetings between October 2006 and December 2008.



Results

The response rate was 65.1%. Eighty-five percent of PCPs agreed on the effectiveness of ADs for depressive disorder whereas lower agreement emerged for anxiety disorder and on psychotherapy for both anxiety and depression. Forty percent of PCPs reported to feel “very/extremely confident” in recognizing depression and 20.0% felt equally confident in treating it with pharmacotherapy. Considering anxiety disorder, these proportions increased. Female PCPs and those located in the rural/mountain areas reported to adopt more psycho-educational support compared to male and suburban colleagues.



Conclusions


Our results suggest that an effort should be made to better disseminate recent evidences about the management of anxiety and depressive disorders in Primary Care. In particular, the importance of psychological interventions and the role of drugs for anxiety disorder should be addressed.

Keywords: Anxiety, Depression, Primary care, Antidepressants, Psychotherapy


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