Perceptions of psychological content in the GP consultation—the role of practice, personal and prescribing attributes

Mark Ashworth, Emma Godfrey, Kate Harvey, Lucy Darbishire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of the present study was to determine the relationship between the characteristics of general practices and the perceptions of the psychological content of consultations by GPs in those practices.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted of all GPs (22 GPs based in nine practices) serving a discrete inner city community of 41 000 residents. GPs were asked to complete a log-diary over a period of five working days, rating their perception of the psychological content of each consultation on a 4-point Likert scale, ranging from 0 (no psychological content) to 3 (entirely psychological in content). The influence of GP and practice characteristics on psychological content scores was examined.

Results: Data were available for every surgery-based consultation (n = 2206) conducted by all 22 participating GPs over the study period. The mean psychological content score was 0.58 (SD 0.33). Sixty-four percent of consultations were recorded as being without any psychological content; 6% were entirely psychological in content. Higher psychological content scores were significantly associated with younger GPs, training practices (n = 3), group practices (n = 4), the presence of on-site mental health workers (n = 5), higher antidepressant prescribing volumes and the achievement of vaccine and smear targets. Training status had the greatest predictive power, explaining 51% of the variation in psychological content. Neither practice consultation rates, GP list size, annual psychiatric referral rates nor volumes of benzodiazepine prescribing were related to psychological content scores.

Conclusion: Increased awareness by GPs of the psychological dimension within a consultation may be a feature of the educational environment of training practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-375
Number of pages3
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2003


  • GP consultation
  • psychological factors
  • practice characteristics

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