General practitioners and schizophrenia: results from a Swiss survey
Andor E. Simon, Christoph Lauber, Katja Ludewig, Hellmuth Braun-Scharm, Daniel S. Umbricht


Background General practitioners (GPs) have an important role in the care of patients with chronic schizophrenia and of those in the early phases of this disorder.

Aims To obtain information about the number of patients in the early and chronic stages of schizophrenia seen in general practice; the needs and attitudes of GPs, their diagnostic knowledge concerning early phases of schizophrenia and their knowledge and practice concerning treatment of patients with first-episode and multi-episode schizophrenia.

Method A postal survey was conducted among randomly selected GPs in Switzerland.

Results A total of 1089 GPs responded to the survey. Early psychosis had a low prevalence in general practice, and GPs expressed a wish for specialised, low-threshold referral services. Diagnostic and treatment knowledge showed inconsistencies. Most GPs said they would treat first-episode schizophrenia with antipsychotics, but only a third recommended maintenance treatment after a first episode of schizophrenia that would conform with international recommendations.

Conclusions Easily accessible, low-threshold referral services are pivotal in supporting GPs in the management and treatment of emerging schizophrenia in primary healthcare patients.

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