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Practice of Biopsychosocial Medicine in Portugal: Perspectives of Professionals Involved

  • M. Graça Pereira (a1), Alfonso Alonso Fachado (a2) and Thomas Edward Smith (a3)

Although, recently, the biopsychosocial approach has been emphasized in the practice of family medicine, how psychologists and physicians interact in collaborative family health care practice is still emerging in Portugal. This article describes a qualitative study that focused on the understanding of psychologists and family physicians' perceptions of their role and the collaborative approach in health care.

A questionnaire gathered information regarding collaboration, referral, training and the practice of biopsychosocial medicine. A content analysis on respondents' discourse was performed. Results show that both physicians and psychologists agree on the importance of the biopsychosocial model and interdisciplinary collaboration. However, they also mentioned several difficulties that have to do with the lack of psychologists working full time in health care centers, lack of communication and different expectancies regarding each other roles in health care delivery.

Both physicians and psychologists acknowledge the lack of academic training and consider the need for multidisciplinary teams in their training and practice to improve collaboration and integrative care. Implications for future research and for the practice of biopsychosocial medicine are addressed.

Aunque recientemente se ha subrayado el abordaje biopsicosocial en la práctica de la medicina familiar, la forma en que interactúan psicólogos y médicos en el cuidado de la salud familiar todavía está empezando en Portugal. Este artículo describe un estudio cualitativo que se centra en la comprensión de las percepciones de los psicólogos y médicos de familia de su papel y del abordaje colaborativo en el cuidado de la salud.

Mediante un cuestionario, se recogió información acerca de la colaboración, derivación, entrenamiento y práctica de la medicina biopsicosocial. Se realizó un análisis de contenido del discurso de los respondientes. Los resultados muestran que tanto médicos como psicólogos están de acuerdo en la importancia del modelo biopsicosocial y la colaboración multidisciplinaria. Sin embargo, también mencionaron varias dificultades que tienen que ver con la falta de psicólogos que trabajen a tiempo completo en los centros de salud, la falta de comunicación y las diferentes expectativas acerca de sus roles en el servicio del cuidado de salud. Tanto los médicos como los psicólogos reconocen

la falta de formación académica y consideran la necesidad de equipos multidisciplinarios en su formación y práctica para mejorar la colaboración y el cuidado íntegro. Se comentan las implicaciones para la investigación futura y para la práctica de la medicina biopsicosocial.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to M. Graça Pereira. Universidade do Minho. IEP. 4710 Braga, Portugal. Phone: 351-938471039. E-mail:
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The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
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