Objectives: To update the 20 year-old maxim that the majority of patients who undertake self-poisoning have recently seen their general practitioner, and to determine the patients' expressed reasons for consulting the doctor.
Methods: Two-stage cross-sectional survey: first, to find out from all self-poisoning patients whether they had recently attended their general practitioner; second, to determine, in a sub-sample of those who had attended, why they made their most recent consultation. The subjects were consecutive adult patients who were admitted to the general hospital in the City of Bradford as a consequence of self-poisoning.
Results: Overall 125/237 (53%) patients reported a consultation with their general practitioner in the previous month, and 61 of the 237 (26%) were within the last week. Patients recounted that their main expectations when consulting were to do with prescriptions, sick-notes and physical check-ups.
Conclusions: Although many of those who undertake self-poisoning consult their general practitioner shortly beforehand, a preponderance of physical complaints may render anticipation of the self-poisoning a difficult task.