General practitioners and schizophrenia

Andor E. Simon, Christoph Lauber, Katja Ludewig, Hellmuth Braun-Scharm, Daniel S. Umbricht

Background: General practitioners (GPs) have an important role in the care of patients with chronic schizophrenia and of those in the early phases of this disorder. Aims: To obtain information about the number of patients in the early and chronic stages of schizophrenia seen in general practice; the needs and attitudes of GPs, their diagnostic knowledge concerning early phases of schizophrenia and their knowledge and practice concerning treatment of patients with first-episode and multi-episode schizophrenia. Method: A postal survey was conducted among randomly selected GPs in Switzerland. Results: A total of 1089 GPs responded to the survey. Early psychosis had a low prevalence in general practice, and GPs expressed a wish for specialised, low-threshold referral services. Diagnostic and treatment knowledge showed inconsistencies. Most GPs said they would treat first-episode schizophrenia with antipsychotics, but only a third recommended maintenance treatment after a first episode of schizophrenia that would conform with international recommendations. Conclusions: Easily accessible, low-threshold referral services are pivotal in supporting GPs in the management and treatment of emerging schizophrenia in primary healthcare patients.

Simon et al., British Journal of Psychiatry, 2005 (http://dx NULL.doi NULL.1192/bjp NULL.187 NULL.3 NULL.274)

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