Icelandic primary care physicians' perceived competence in detection and treatment of behavior disorders
William H. O’Brien, Advisor
While mental disorders are prevalent in primary health care settings, they often go
undetected and untreated. There are no records to be found on studies of the effectiveness of
Icelandic primary care physicians in diagnosing and treating mental illness. However, it is likely
that the Icelandic primary health care system is not significantly different from systems in other
countries that show poor detection and treatment of mental illness. The present study is the first
study aimed at evaluating Icelandic primary care physicians’ experience with mental health
problems and perceived competence in detection and treatment of behavior disorders.
Furthermore, it is the first empirical attempt to assess the need for improved primary mental
health care in Iceland. This exploratory study was designed to assess primary care physician’s
perception of: 1) Prevalence and significance of different behavior disorders in the primary
health care clinics, 2) their ability to detect and treat behavior disorders within the primary health
care system, 3) the physician’s access to mental health services as well as quality of
communication with mental health professionals, and 4) barriers to adequate mental health care
within the Icelandic primary health care system. Main results suggest that Icelandic primary care
physicians correctly identify that they, among all health care workers, are the ones seeing the
highest proportion of people in the community suffering from mental health problems. They also
correctly identify that depression and anxiety are the most prevalent groups of behavior disorders
in primary care. However, while they seem to be quite confident in their ability to treat and
detect mental illness, extensive amount of research from around the world show extremely poor
detection and treatment of behavior disorders in primary care. Most Icelandic primary care
physicians view the detection and treatment of mental illness in their clinic as adequate or good.
However, most agree that limited time with patients and limited access to mental health
professionals are factors that interfere with adequate mental health services in their clinic.
Implications for mental health care in the Icelandic primary care system are discussed.
School:Bowling Green State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:behavioral assessment primary care medicine mental health services iceland
Date of Publication: