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Provision of mental health care within primary care in Peru: A qualitative study exploring the perspectives of psychologists, primary health care providers, and patients

Provision of mental health care within primary care in Peru: A qualitative study exploring the perspectives of psychologists, primary health care providers, and patients

Wellcome Open Research 3: 9

Background: This study aimed to understand the offer of mental health care at the primary care level, collecting the views of psychologists, primary health care providers (PHCPs), and patients, with a focus on health services in which patients attend regularly and who present a higher prevalence of mental disorders. Methods: A qualitative study was conducted in antenatal care, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and chronic diseases services from six primary health care centers. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with psychologists, PHCPs, and patients working in or attending the selected facilities.  Results: A total of 4 psychologists, 22 PHCPs, and 37 patients were interviewed. A high perceived need for mental health care was noted. PHCPs acknowledged the emotional impact physical health conditions have on their patients and mentioned that referral to psychologists was reserved only for serious problems. Their approach to emotional problems was providing emotional support (includes listening, talk about their patients' feelings, provide advice). PHCPs identified system-level barriers about the specialized mental health care, including a shortage of psychologists and an overwhelming demand, which results in brief consultations and lack in continuity of care. Psychologists focus their work on individual consultations; however, consultations were brief, did not follow a standardized model of care, and most patients attend only once. Psychologists also mentioned the lack of collaborative work among other healthcare providers. Despite these limitations, interviewed patients declared that they were willing to seek specialized care if advised and considered the psychologist's care provided as helpful; however, they recognized the stigmatization related to seeking mental health care. Conclusions: There is a perceived need of mental health care for primary care patients. To attend these needs, PHCPs provide emotional support and refer to psychology the most severe cases, while psychologists provide one-to-one consultations. Significant limitations in the care provided are discussed.

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Accession: 065445809

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PMID: 29623297

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