Objective: To explore the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of primary care physicians with regard to depression, as well as the association of personal and professional factors with these parameters.
Method: Through a self-administered questionnaire, all 42 public sector primary care physicians in the Jamaican parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew were surveyed on their demographic characteristics, medical training and career trajectory, as well as on KAP parameters related to depression. Possible associations among the KAP parameters and other variables were explored with non-parametric statistical tests. Statistical significance was taken at p < 0.05.
Results: Two-thirds of physicians felt that they were not adequately trained to deal with depression and less than 20% routinely screened patients with chronic illnesses for depression. Overall, positive attitudes towards persons with depression were prominent. However, negative attitudes towards persons with depression were encountered more commonly among foreign nationals and among persons who had received their medical training overseas (p< 0.05). Physicians earlier in their careers had a greater tendency to view the prescription of antidepressant medications as the exclusive purview of mental health specialists (p< 0.05).
Conclusion: There is scope for further training and sensitization of primary care physicians on issues related to depression. Persons earlier in their careers may benefit from particular emphasis on attitudes towards the management of depression. Foreign nationals and overseas-trained physicians may benefit from particular emphasis on attitudes towards persons with depression.
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