Training Russian family physicians in mental health skills

Alla Zakroyeva, David Goldberg, Linda Gask, Morven Leese
European Journal of General Practice 2008, 14 (1): 19-22

OBJECTIVE: This paper describes the setting up of training for family physicians in mental health skills, with the results obtained for the first 75 doctors who attended the course, in the city of Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation.

METHODS: Instruction was by lectures, discussion groups, and role-plays, initially using the World Psychiatric Association's (WPA) training materials on mental health skills for general medical practitioners, dubbed into Russian. This represented the first time that formal teaching on depression and unexplained somatic symptoms (USS) had been offered to these doctors. Teaching was initially by English teachers, but is now led by a Russian family physician using videotaped recordings of local doctors speaking in Russian. All doctors were tested for both knowledge and clinical practice before the course and 3 months after the course was completed.

RESULTS: Older doctors started the course from a lower knowledge base than younger doctors, but acquired more knowledge. Theoretical knowledge of both depression and USS increased dramatically, and great changes occurred in the way that these patients are managed.

CONCLUSION: Mental health skills training has been provided to Russian family physicians with a positive impact on theoretical knowledge and self-reported management. The course has now been expanded, and more Russian teachers are involved.

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