South African Family Practice

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Depression in primary care: the knowledge, attitudes and practice of general practitioners in Benin City, Nigeria

BO James, R Jenkins, AO Lawani, JO \moaregba


Background: Depression contributes significantly to the global burden of disease in developing countries. Poor case detection and inadequate numbers of mental health staff have been associated with increased morbidity among individuals with depression presenting to primary care. In Nigeria, as in most developing countries, general practitioners (GPs) may fill this treatment gap. The knowledge of and attitudes towards depression among GPs have not been surveyed, hence the need for this study.
Method: A cross-sectional survey of 72 GPs was undertaken in Benin City, Nigeria. The 20-item Depression Attitude Questionnaire was used to determine their knowledge and attitude towards depression and its treatment in primary care settings.
Results: GPs had a limited knowledge of depression, with the majority (77.8%) expressing difficulty working with depressed patients. They exhibited moderately stigmatising attitudes towards individuals with depression. GPs were conservative in their use of antidepressants and believed that psychotherapeutic approaches were useful.

Conclusions: Training programs and awareness campaigns for GPs concerning depression are needed in order to improve attitudes towards people with depression, increase case detection and increase the proportion of people treated.

Keywords: general practitioners, depression, knowledge, attitudes, Nigeria
AJOL African Journals Online