Mental health and mental illness are often overlooked in the management of patients in our health services. Depression is a common mental disorder worldwide. Recognising and managing mental illnesses such as depression by primary health care providers (PHCPs) is crucial. This study describes the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of PHCPs regarding depression in Fako Division.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among PHCPs (general practitioners, nurses, pharmacy attendants and social workers) in public-owned health facilities in the four health districts in Fako Division. Participants were selected by a consecutive convenience sampling. A structured questionnaire including the Depression Attitude Questionnaire (DAQ) was used to collect information about their socio-demographic characteristics, professional qualifications and KAP about depression.
The survey had a response rate of 56.7%. Most of the 226 participants (92.9%) were aware that depression needs medical intervention. Only 1.8% knew a standard tool used to diagnose depression. Two-thirds agreed that majority of the cases of depression encountered originate from recent misfortune. About 66% felt uncomfortable working with depressed patients. Also, 45.1% of PHCPs did not know if psychotropic drugs were available at pharmacies within their health area. Very few (15.2%) reported to have prescribed psychotropic drugs. Less than half (49.1%) of the participants had prior formal training in mental health.
PHCPs in Fako Division tend to have limited knowledge and poor attitudes regarding depression. Practices towards diagnosis and management of depression tend to be inadequate. There is an urgent need to train PHCPs in mental health in general and depression diagnosis and management in particular.