29 Better identification and treatment of mental disorders in primary care

Although a relatively large proportion of the population suffers from depression and anxiety, only a small number of those affected benefit from adequate and prompt diagnosis and treatment. This is the starting point of this research project.

  • Project description (ongoing research project)

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    40 general practitioners in the greater Zurich area will be allocated randomly to an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group will be trained to recognise patients with mental disorders. Practitioners in this group will also receive support and advice from specialised professionals (psychotherapists and psychiatrists) who will become involved directly in the therapy if required. The control group will not receive additional specialist support. The mental health status of the participating patients as well as direct and indirect costs will be determined at various time points. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the intervention will be analysed by comparing the intervention and control group. The implementation process will also be evaluated.

  • Background

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    Studies show that just one in three people in Switzerland with a mental disorder receives the adequate treatment. This results in impaired health, chronicity of the disorders and high costs for the health and social welfare systems. The reasons for inadequate care are poor early detection and choice of treatment as well as wait lists for specialist treatment. This is why there are national and international initiatives aiming to strengthen the role of the primary care provider in this area.

  • Aim

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    The aim of the study is to improve the recognition, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, particularly depression and anxiety, in the primary care setting. The efficacy, cost-effectiveness, feasibility and acceptance of a comprehensive intervention will be evaluated.

  • Relevance / Application

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    The study will help to improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, particularly depression and anxiety, in the primary care setting. To benefit the patients, the intervention aims to impact the treatment process as early as possible, i.e. when the question arises of what disorder the patient has and what treatment should be selected. The intervention model can also be extended to other medical practices and to other disease categories.

  • Original title

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    Improving care for patients with depressive and anxiety disorders in primary and secondary care