Objective: General practitioners play a crucial role in the delivery of psychiatric treatment to patients who have many similarities to those attending the general psychiatric services. The purpose of this study was to elicit attitudes of general practitioners to an existing local service. Methods: We used an anonymous questionaire hand delivered to 54 general practitioners with practices in the catchment area of one of Dublin's psychiatric hospitals. Results: We received responses from 40 of the GP's indicating a high level of psychiatric morbidity in the primary care setting, a moderate level of satisfaction with psychiatric service, a low level of knowledge of the catchment area system, limited interest in taking on an increased role in the care of psychiatric patients and a high popularity rating for the community psychiatric nurse. Conclusions: This study confirms previous estimates of psychiatric morbidity in general practice, a need for improved communication between psychiatrists and general practitioners to identify more realistic expectations on both sides of the equation, and a huge potential for the expanding community psychiatric services to improve liaison between general practitioners and psychiatrists and yield considerable patient and doctor gains.
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