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Targeted education for general practitioners reduces risk of depression or suicide ideation or attempts in older primary care patients

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Question: Can a targeted educational intervention for general practitioners (GPs) reduce the 2-year prevalence of depression and self-harm among older patients?

Population: 373 Australian GPs and 21 762 patients aged 60 years or older (mean age 71.8 years).

Setting: General practices in Australia; June 2005–June 2008.

Intervention: Practice audit with personalised automated audit feedback and educational material (intervention) versus audit with no personalised feedback (control). The audit was of 20 consecutive older patients attending the practice, who filled in a questionnaire including the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the Depressive Symptom Index Suicidality Scale. GPs were asked to fill out questionnaires about these patients, including the likelihood of their being depressed and suicide risk. Feedback was given to the intervention group GPs on the number of patients with depression in their practice compared with other practices, the number of patients with depression and self-harm ideation that they correctly identified, and information about the patients with self-reported symptoms of depression. GPs assigned to the intervention also received printed educational material and 6-monthly educational newsletters for 24 months, and were directed to relevant sections …

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  • Sources of funding The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) and beyondblue Australia.


  • Competing interests None.