Primary care physicians' and psychiatrists' willingness to refer to religious mental health providers

Ryan E Lawrence, Kenneth A Rasinski, John D Yoon, Farr A Curlin
International Journal of Social Psychiatry 2014, 60 (7): 627-36

BACKGROUND: Recent decades have witnessed some integration of mental health care and religious resources.

AIM: We measured primary care physicians' (PCPs) and psychiatrists' knowledge of religious mental health-care providers, and their willingness to refer there.

METHODS: A national survey of PCPs and psychiatrists was conducted, using vignettes of depressed and anxious patients. Vignettes included Christian or Jewish patients, who regularly or rarely attended services. We asked whether physicians knew of local religious mental health providers, and whether they would refer patients there.

RESULTS: In all, 896/1427 PCPs and 312/487 psychiatrists responded. Half of PCPs (34.1%-44.1%) and psychiatrists (51.4%-56.3%) knew Christian providers; fewer PCPs (8.5%-9.9%) and psychiatrists (15.8%-19.6%) knew Jewish providers. Predictors included the following: patients were Christian (odds ratio (OR) = 2.2-2.9 for PCPs, 2.3-2.4 for psychiatrists), respondents were Christian (OR = 2.1-9.3 for PCPs) and respondents frequently attend services (OR = 3.5-7.0 for PCPs). Two-thirds of PCPs (63.3%-64%) and psychiatrists (48.8%-52.6%) would refer to religious providers. Predictors included the following: patients regularly attend services OR = 1.2 for PCPs, 1.6 for Psychiatrists, depression vignette only), respondents were Christian (OR = 2.8-18.1 for PCPs, 2.3-9.2 for psychiatrists) and respondents frequently attend services (OR = 5.1-6.3 for PCPs).

CONCLUSION: Many physicians would refer patients to religious mental health providers. However, less religious PCPs are less knowledgeable about local religious providers.


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