The impact of informational interventions about cognitive behavioral therapy for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on GPs’ referral behavior

Journal: Patient Education and Counseling. 2007 May 21; [E-publication ahead of print]

Authors: Scheeres K, Wensing M, Mes C, Bleijenberg G. Expert Centre Chronic Fatigue, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.

PMID: 17521842

Objective: This study investigated the impact of an informational intervention among general practitioners (GPs) about a new treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in a mental health center (MHC). The outcome measures concerned GPs’ knowledge and attitudes towards CFS and their actual referrals of CFS patients to this new treatment setting.

Methods: Three hundred and one GPs, who all had received written information about CFS four times, and who partly had also visited an informational group session, completed a short questionnaire survey on CFS knowledge and attitudes. Referral data were obtained from the mental health center.

Results:

  • During 16 months 22% of all GPs in the concerning region had referred at least one CFS patient.
  • Concerning knowledge and attitude, the survey results showed that 70% of the GPs had remembered the intervention's main message, namely the new treatment possibility.
  • These informed GPs reported better knowledge and more positive attitudes towards CFS than the non-informed GPs, who had not seen and read the intervention's information.

    Conclusion: This study showed that disseminating written materials can be a useful method for stimulating GPs to refer CFS patients for CBT.

    Practice Implications: In future implementation projects concerning CBT for CFS (or other 'new' treatments for a disputed illness) in a MHC or other institution, the informational intervention evaluated here can be a suitable and efficient method to inform GPs and let them refer patients.

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