Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-7l5rh Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-27T10:43:12.680Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Foundation doctor preparedness for treating mental health conditions: results from a national survey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2021

George Gillett*
Affiliation:
IoPNN King's College London
Owen Davis
Affiliation:
UK Foundation Programme Leadership Fellow & Foundation Year 2 Doctor, Oxford Foundation School
Amarit Gill
Affiliation:
UK Foundation Programme Leadership Fellow & Foundation Year 2 Doctor, Wales Foundation School
Clare van Hamel
Affiliation:
Severn Foundation School Director & Clinical Advisor to UK Foundation Programme
*
*corresponding author.
Rights & Permissions [Opens in a new window]

Abstract

Core share and HTML view are not available for this content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.
Aims

Previous research suggests the prevalence of mental health conditions among medical inpatients may be as high as 38%. Anecdotally, junior doctors report lacking the confidence, knowledge and skills to assess and treat patients with psychiatric conditions. Identifying this unmet need offers potential to improve standards of care and achieve parity of esteem between psychiatric and medical conditions within the general hospital. Aims:

To assess self-reported preparedness of newly-qualified Foundation Doctors to care for patients with acute or chronic psychiatric symptoms in comparison to physical health conditions.

Method

In September of each year (2017, 2018, 2019), a survey was cascaded to all incoming Foundation Year 1 Doctors. For each respective year there were 1673, 961 & 1301 respondents. Respondents were asked to rate their agreement with statements on a Likert scale. Statements pertaining to mental health included “a) I am competent in acute mental health care provision, b) I am competent in chronic mental health care provision” and “I feel confident in prescribing the following drugs; c) drugs for mental health problems”. Comparison statements assessed confidence caring for medically unwell patients, performing practical procedures and prescribing drugs for physical health conditions.

Result

Preparedness for acute and chronic mental health were lower than both physical health comparison items; preparedness to care for patients with critical illness (acute: r = 0.794, p < 0.001, chronic: r = 0.556, p < 0.001) and preparedness to perform practical procedures (acute: r = 0.724, p < 0.001, chronic: r = 0.433, p < 0.001).

Confidence prescribing mental health drugs was lower than all other comparison items (simple analgesia: r = 0.854, bronchodilators: r = 0.789, antimicrobials: r = 0.772, inhaled steroids: r = 0.720, intravenous fluids: r = 0.702, oral anti-diabetics: r = 0.611, anticoagulants: r = 0.515, narcotics: r = 0.514, insulin: r = 0.206; p < 0.001)

Conclusion

These results identify a disparity in foundation doctors’ self-reported preparedness to treat acute and chronic mental health conditions and prescribe psychotropic medications, compared to a variety of physical health domains. To our knowledge this is the first large-scale study to empirically test a potential discrepancy between newly-qualified doctors’ preparedness to treat patients’ mental and physical health needs. Medical school education and foundation training may therefore present a fruitful opportunity to improve care for patients with psychiatric conditions within general hospital settings.

Type
Education and Training
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BY
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.