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1.  Mental health care as delivered by Dutch general practitioners between 2004 and 2008 
In the field of mental health care, a major role for general practice is advocated. However, not much is known about the treatment and referral of mental health problems in general practice. This study aims at the volume and nature of treatment of mental health problems in general practice; the degree to which treatment varies according to patients’ gender, age, and social economic status; and trends in treatment and referral between 2004 and 2008.
Descriptive study with trends in time in general practice in the Netherlands.
350,000 patients enlisted in general practice, whose data from the Netherlands Information Network of General Practice were routinely collected from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2008.
Main outcome measures
For all episodes of mental health problems recorded by the GP, the proportion of patients receiving prolonged attention, medication, and referral during each year have been calculated.
More than 75% of patients with a recorded mental health problem received some kind of treatment, most often medication. In 15–20% of cases medication was accompanied by prolonged attention; 9–13% of these patients were referred (given referrals), the majority to specialized mental health care. Age is the most important variable associated with treatment received. During the period 2004–2008, treatment with medication declined slightly and referrals increased slightly.
Treatment for psychological disorders is mostly delivered in general practice. Although in recent years restraint has been advocated in prescribing medication and collaboration between primary and secondary care has been recommended, these recommendations are only partially reflected in the treatment provided.
PMCID: PMC3443939  PMID: 22794194
Anxiety; depression; drug therapy; general practice; referral and consultation; therapy
2.  Patients’ views on changes in doctor-patient communication between 1982 and 2001: a mixed-methods study 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:80.
Doctor-patient communication has been influenced over time by factors such as the rise of evidence-based medicine and a growing emphasis on patient-centred care. Despite disputes in the literature on the tension between evidence-based medicine and patient-centered medicine, patients’ views on what constitutes high quality of doctor-patient communication are seldom an explicit topic for research. The aim of this study is to examine whether analogue patients (lay people judging videotaped consultations) perceive shifts in the quality of doctor-patient communication over a twenty-year period.
Analogue patients (N = 108) assessed 189 videotaped general practice consultations from two periods (1982–1984 and 2000–2001). They provided ratings on three dimensions (scale 1–10) and gave written feedback. With a mixed-methods research design, we examined these assessments quantitatively (in relation to observed communication coded with RIAS) and qualitatively.
1) The quantitative analyses showed that biomedical communication and rapport building were positively associated with the quality assessments of videotaped consultations from the first period, but not from the second. Psychosocial communication and personal remarks were related to positive quality assessments of both periods; 2) the qualitative analyses showed that in both periods, participants provided the same balance between positive and negative comments. Listening, giving support, and showing respect were considered equally important in both periods. We identified shifts in the participants’ observations on how GPs explained things to the patient, the division of roles and responsibilities, and the emphasis on problem-focused communication (first period) versus solution-focused communication (last period).
Analogue patients recognize shifts in the quality of doctor-patient communication from two different periods, including a shift from problem-focused communication to solution-focused communication, and they value an egalitarian doctor-patient relationship. The two research methods were complementary; based on the quantitative analyses we found shifts in communication, which we confirmed and specified in our qualitative analyses.
PMCID: PMC3460773  PMID: 22873783
Quality of care; Doctor-patient communication; Analogue patients; General practice; Video observation; Mixed-methods design
3.  Changes in the quality of doctor–patient communication between 1982 and 2001: an observational study on hypertension care as perceived by patients and general practitioners 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000203.
The rise of evidence-based medicine may have implications for the doctor–patient interaction. In recent decades, a shift towards a more task-oriented approach in general practice indicates a development towards more standardised healthcare.
To examine whether this shift is accompanied by changes in perceived quality of doctor–patient communication.
GP observers and patient observers performed quality assessments of Dutch General Practice consultations on hypertension videotaped in 1982–1984 and 2000–2001. In the first cohort (1982–1984) 81 patients were recorded by 23 GPs and in the second cohort (2000–2001) 108 patients were recorded by 108 GPs. The GP observers and patient observers rated the consultations on a scale from 1 to 10 on three quality dimensions: medical technical quality, psychosocial quality and quality of interpersonal behaviour. Multilevel regression analyses were used to test whether a change occurred over time.
The findings showed a significant improvement over time on all three dimensions. There was no difference between the quality assessments of GP observers and patient observers. The three different dimensions were moderately to highly correlated and the assessments of GP observers showed less variability in the second cohort.
Hypertension consultations in general practice in the Netherlands received higher quality assessments by general practitioners and patients on medical technical quality, psychosocial quality and the quality of interpersonal behaviour in 2000–2001 as compared with the 1980s. The shift towards a more task-oriented approach in hypertension consultations does not seem to detract from individual attention for the patient. In addition, there is less variation between general practitioners in the quality assessments of more recent consultations. The next step in this line of research is to unravel the factors that determine patients' quality assessments of doctor–patient communication.
Article summary
Article focus
Doctor–patient communication in hypertension consultations has become more business-like and task-oriented in the past few decades.
Shifts in communication styles in general practice may have produced changes in quality assessments of doctor–patient communication by general practitioners and patients.
Key messages
Compared with 20 years earlier (1982–1984), hypertension consultations recorded in 2000–2001 received higher quality assessments by GP observers and patient observers on three distinct quality dimensions: medical technical quality, psychosocial quality and the quality of interpersonal behaviour.
There was less variation between general practitioners in the quality assessments of more recent consultations.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Videotaped real-life general practice consultations from two distinct periods were analysed, which means that the findings refer to actual behaviour in general practice.
The quality assessments were made according to the same protocol in both periods.
Assessments of the GPs were executed by contemporary peers, while the assessments of patients were performed retrospectively. However, the concurrence of assessments of patient observers and GP observers in their different contexts reinforces our conclusions.
The generalisability of the findings is restricted to hypertension consultations, which involve a high proportion of repeat visits.
PMCID: PMC3191582  PMID: 22021787
4.  Patient Factors Associated with Guideline-concordant Treatment of Anxiety and Depression in Primary Care 
To identify associations of patient characteristics (predisposing, enabling and need factors) with guideline-concordant care for anxiety and depression in primary care.
Analysis of data from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA).
Seven hundred and twenty-one patients with a current anxiety or depressive disorder, recruited from 67 general practitioners (GPs), were included.
Diagnoses according to the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) were made using a structured and widely validated assessment. Socio-demographic and enabling characteristics, severity of symptoms, disability, (under treatment for) chronic somatic conditions, perceived need for care, beliefs and evaluations of care were measured by questionnaires. Actual care data were derived from electronic medical records. Criteria for guideline-concordant care were based on general practice guidelines, issued by the Dutch College of General Practitioners.
Two hundred and eighty-one (39%) patients received guideline-concordant care. High education level, accessibility of care, comorbidity of anxiety and depression, and severity and disability scores were positively associated with receiving guideline-concordant care in univariate analyses. In multivariate multi-level logistic regression models, significant associations with the clinical need factors disappeared. Positive evaluations of accessibility of care increased the chance (OR = 1.31; 95%−CI = 1.05–1.65; p = 0.02) of receiving guideline-concordant care, as well as perceiving any need for medication (OR = 2.99; 95%−CI = 1.84–4.85; p < 0.001), counseling (OR = 2.25; 95%−CI = 1.29–3.95; p = 0.005) or a referral (OR = 1.83; 95%−CI = 1.09–3.09; p = 0.02). A low educational level decreased the odds (OR = 0.33; 95%−CI = 0.11–0.98; p = 0.04) of receiving guideline-concordant care.
This study shows that education level, accessibility of care and patients’ perceived needs for care are more strongly associated with the delivery of guideline-concordant care for anxiety or depression than clinical need factors. Initiatives to improve GPs’ communication skills around mental health issues, and to improve recognition of people suffering from anxiety disorders, could increase the number of patients receiving treatment for depression and anxiety in primary care.
PMCID: PMC2881973  PMID: 20049547
depression; psychology; guidelines; primary care; patient-centered care
5.  Predicting Return to Work in Employees Sick-Listed Due to Minor Mental Disorders 
Objective To investigate which factors predict return to work (RTW) after 3 and 6 months in employees sick-listed due to minor mental disorders. Methods Seventy GPs recruited 194 subjects at the start of sick leave due to minor mental disorders. At baseline (T0), 3 and 6 months later (T1 and T2, respectively), subjects received a questionnaire and were interviewed by telephone. Using multivariate logistic regression analyses, we developed three prediction models to predict RTW at T1 and T2. Results The RTW rates were 38% after 3 months (T1) and 61% after 6 months (T2). The main negative predictors of RTW at T1 were: (a) a duration of the problems of more than 3 months before sick leave; and (b) somatisation. The main negative predictors of RTW at T2 were: (a) a duration of the problems of more than 3 months before sick leave; (b) more than 3 weeks of sick leave before inclusion in the study; and (c) anxiety. The main negative predictors of RTW at T2 for those who had not resumed work at T1 were: (a) more than 3 weeks of sick leave before inclusion in the study; and (b) depression at T1. The predictive power of the models was moderate with AUC-values between 0.695 and 0.763. Conclusions The main predictors of RTW were associated with the severity of the problems. A long duration of the problems before the occurrence of sick leave and a long duration of sick leave before seeking help predict a relatively small probability to RTW within 3–6 months. High baseline somatisation and anxiety, and high depression after 3 months make the prospect even worse. Since these predictors are readily assessable with just a few questions and a symptom questionnaire, this opens the opportunity to select high-risk employees for a targeted intervention to prevent long-term absenteeism.
PMCID: PMC2775114  PMID: 19760489
Sick leave; Mental disorders; Prediction; RTW; Primary care; Emotional distress
6.  Healthcare utilization in general practice before and after psychological treatment: A follow-up data linkage study in primary care 
Objective. Literature suggests that serious mental health problems increase the use of health services and psychological interventions can reduce this effect. This study investigates whether this effect is also found in primary care patients with less serious mental health problems. Design/setting. Routine electronic health records (EHR) from a representative sample of 128 general practices were linked to patient files from 150 primary care psychologists participating in the NIVEL Primary Care Database, using a trusted third party. Data were linked using the date of birth, gender, and postcode. This yielded 503 unique data pairs that were listed in one of the participating GP practices in 2008–2010, for people who had psychological treatment from a psychologist that ended in 2009. Main outcome measures. The number of contacts, health problems presented, and prescribed medication in general practice were analysed before and after the psychological treatment. Results. Nearly all 503 patients consulted their GP during the six months preceding the psychological treatment (90.9%) and also in the six months after this treatment had ended (83.7%). The frequency of contacts was significantly higher before than after the psychological treatment (6.1 vs. 4.8). Fewer patients contacted their GPs specifically for psychological or social problems (46.3% vs. 38.8%) and fewer patients had anxiolytic drug prescriptions (15.5% vs. 7.6%) after psychological treatment. Conclusion. After psychological treatment, patients contact their GPs less often and present fewer psychological or social problems. Although contact rates seem to decrease, clients of psychologists are still frequent GP attenders.
PMCID: PMC4206558  PMID: 25142308
Electronic health records; general practice; mental health; Netherlands; primary healthcare; psychologist

Results 1-6 (6)