Attitudes of Nigerian Pediatricians towards referring children for psychiatric evaluation
Background: In Nigeria due to the high level of stigmatization, children with psychiatric disorders often, first present to paediatricians. The attitude of paediatricians towards psychiatric referral can, therefore, determine how promptly, children
with psychiatric problems can access specialized care.
Aims: to determine rate of referring children for psychiatric evaluation, the reasons for not referring and the factors that influence referring children for psychiatric evaluation by paediatricians.
Methods: The questionnaire designed for the study was completed by 174 Paediatricians who attended the annual scientific conf erence of Paediatric Association of Nigeria.
Results: Not having encountered children with psychiatric disorders (78%), absence of psychiatry facilities in their area of practice (70.7%), and feeling that this could embarrass the patients (56.1%), were the major reasons for nonreferral of children for psychiatric evaluation by paediatricians while the rank of participants (p=0.002), years of practice (p=0.010), and availability of psychiatry services in the centre ( p = 0. 011 ) w e r e significantly associated with referring children for psychiatric evaluation.
Conclusion: There is need to establish child and adolescent psychiatric services in all centres where children are attended to and also improve on the exposure of medical students and trainees to psychiatry.
Key words: paediatricians, psychiatric evaluation, referral