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To describe and explain psychiatrists' responses to metabolic abnormalities identified during screening. We carried out an audit of clinical records to assess rates of monitoring and follow-up practice. Semi-structured interviews with 36 psychiatrists followed by descriptive and thematic analyses were conducted.
Metabolic abnormalities were identified in 76% of eligible patients screened. Follow-up, recorded for 59%, was variable but more likely with four or more abnormalities. Psychiatrists endorse guidelines but ambivalence about responsibility, professional norms, resource constraints and skills deficits as well as patient factors influences practice. Therapeutic optimism and desire to be a ‘good doctor’ supported comprehensive follow-up.
Psychiatrists are willing to attend to physical healthcare, and obstacles to recommended practice are surmountable. Psychiatrists seek consensus among stakeholders about responsibilities and a systemic approach addressing the social determinants of health inequities. Understanding patients' expectations is critical to promoting best practice.
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