A questionnaire survey of all general practices in one health authority plus an assessment of a random sample of referrals were used to evaluate the impact of counsellors in primary care on referrals to mental health services.
A total of 91.1% of practices responded to the survey. A counsellor was present in 20.3% of these practices. A random sample of 180 referrals to community mental health teams was reviewed. There was a significantly higher referral rate from practices that employed a counsellor (P = 0.003). There was no evidence of a difference in rates of caseness of referrals between practices that employed a counsellor and those that did not.
Practices employing counsellors had significantly higher referral rates to mental health services, with no difference in the level of caseness between the two groups of referrals.
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