Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 April 2020
General practitioners (GPs) are well placed as gatekeepers for depression and suicidal ideation, but not properly prepared to detect and treat depression and suicidal behavior. Training programs aiming to increase the GPs’ capacity have been recommended as a useful strategy for suicide prevention. The current study aimed to increase the GPs’ attitudes toward depression and its treatment as well as attitudes toward suicide prevention and confidence in dealing with depression and suicidal ideation in daily practice.
In the context of a large European multilevel research project (OSPI-Europe) a standardized training program was developed and provided to 215 GPs in Germany, Hungary, Ireland, and Portugal. Core outcomes were assessed before training, after training, and at three months follow-up with the Depression Attitude Questionnaire, the Attitude toward Suicide Prevention scale, and the Morris Confidence Scale.
At baseline GPs showed moderately favorable attitudes toward depression and its treatment, fairly positive attitudes toward suicide prevention, and little confidence to deal with depression and suicide in their professional life. Importantly, the training program resulted in significant improvements in the GPs’ confidence to deal with depression and suicide and in their attitudes toward suicide prevention. After three months follow-up, training effects with respect to confidence could be sustained.
The OSPI-training program was able to reshape the attitudes of GPs toward suicide prevention and to boost their confidence in dealing with depression and suicide. Effects on the GPs’ attitudes toward depression and its treatment were less convincing. Recommendations are formulated for future training programs.