There are no data or guidelines on who should be referred to community mental health teams (CMHTs), resulting in enormous variability in referral patterns. General practitioners (GPs) and psychiatrists were surveyed using a purpose-designed questionnaire to assess their attitudes regarding referral of individuals with different psychiatric disorders.
There was consensus among GPs and psychiatrists that individuals with psychotic disorders, mania, severe depression and phobias should be referred to CMHTs. GPs were more likely to refer personality disorder, whereas the reverse was true for moderate depression and anxiety/ panic disorders. There was disagreement within groups about referral for acute stress reaction, mild depression and adjustment disorders.
Uncertainty about appropriate referral causes variability in referral patterns and service provisions. This needs resolution through the Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists and General Practitioners, to provide guidance leading to equality of care for all.
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