General Practitioners (GPs) are well placed as gatekeepers for managing depression and suicidal ideation but not always well prepared. Capacity building has therefore been recommended as a useful strategy for suicide prevention. This study aimed to examine whether GPs’ knowledge and attitudes towards and confidence to deal with depression and suicide improve after following a training program.
As part of the OSPI-Europe multilevel intervention, a standardized training on depression and suicide was provided to 208 GPs in three European countries. Core outcomes were assessed using the Depression Attitude Questionnaire, the Attitude towards Suicide Prevention Scale, and the Morriss Confidence Scale. Data were collected before and after training, and at three to six months follow-up.
At baseline, GPs demonstrated various stigmatizing attitudes towards depression and low optimism about the therapeutic treatment of depression. They showed moderately positive attitudes towards suicide prevention but felt little confident in dealing with depression and suicide in daily practice. The training resulted in improved knowledge, attitudes and confidence regarding depression and suicide and their prevention and treatment. At follow-up, only the increase in confidence to deal with depression and suicide was sustained.
The Depression Attitude Questionnaire has rather weak psychometric properties. Other external factors may have contributed to the observed training effects as the study included no control group.
The OSPI-Europe training program was able to improve the GPs’ attitudes towards suicide prevention, several attitudes towards depression and its treatment as well as the GPs’ confidence to deal with depression and suicide in everyday practice. At follow, only the GPs’ confidence to deal with depression and suicide was preserved.