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The in-house psychologist: do we speak the same language? Short report of a qualitative practice project

Birgitte Schoenmakers, Jan De Lepeleire
  • Jan De Lepeleire
    Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University Leuven, Belgium


Interdisciplinary collaboration is gaining importance. Although general practices (GP’s) have a comprehensive experience in collaboration with psychologists, research on this topic is scarce. In house referrals to a psychologist are assumed to lower the thresholds for patients and GP’s. In this study it was investigated whether the GP’s reasons to refer in were accordance with the treatment strategy of the residing psychologist. The study is performed in a retrospective, observational cross section design. The studied population were the residing psychologist and GP’s. Both were asked to complete a questionnaire. Outcome measures where the referral reasons of the GP’s and the treatment strategy of the psychologist. A total sample of 92 patients of 6 GP’s was studied. Over 60% of the patients were referred for counseling but only in 25% of the cases this proposal was carried out by the psychologist. Overall, the referral reasons of the GP’s were not in accordance with the treatment strategy of the psychologist. A close collaboration and communication between general practitioners and psychologists is both difficult and indispensable. This practice research demonstrated that the referral motives of the GP’s usually do not correspond to the treatment policy of the psychologist. This observation is partly explained by a lack of understanding of the GP in the treatment strategies of the psychologists. Another part of the explanation is that there is a pre-selection of the GPs referrals rather influenced by patient characteristics than by pathology.


primary health care, mental health services, general practice

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Submitted: 2012-10-17 11:13:43
Published: 2013-03-22 09:26:46
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Copyright (c) 2013 Birgitte Schoenmakers, Jan De Lepeleire

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