Previous research has not shown any significant health gain for patients as a result of providing education about depression for GPs. Reasons for this, however, are unclear.
To explore relationships between process and outcome in the setting of a randomised controlled trial of a complex educational intervention designed to provide GPs with training in the assessment and management of depression.
Design of study
Qualitative study utilising semi-structured interviews.
General practice in the northwest of England.
Semi-structured interviews with 30 GPs in Liverpool and Manchester who participated in a randomised controlled trial.
Three major barriers to the effectiveness of the intervention were identified: the lack of the GP's belief that he/she could have an impact on the outcome of depression, the appropriateness of the training, and the organisational context in which doctors had to implement what they had learned.
Attitudes toward treating depression may need addressing at a much earlier point in medical education. If students are introduced to a biosocial model of depression at an early stage, they may feel more hopeful about their ability to intervene when faced with patients who exhibit significant degrees of functional disability in the context of apparently socially determined disorders. Postgraduate interventions should be tailored to the treatment of depression as a common chronic condition and be focused at the level of the organisation, not the individual practitioner.