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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Patterns of engagement between GPs and adolescents who present with psychological difficulties: a qualitative study

Roberts, Jane, Crosland, Ann and Fulton, John (2014) Patterns of engagement between GPs and adolescents who present with psychological difficulties: a qualitative study. British Journal of General Practice, 64 (622). e246-e254. ISSN 0960-1643

Item Type: Article


Background: Psychological difficulties are common in adolescence with general practice attendees having higher rates than reported in community surveys. Yet GP identification of common mental health problems in this age group is limited. Anxiety and uncertainty around professional practice have been found among GPs and they vary in their degree of engagement with adolescents presenting with psychological difficulties.

Aim: To explore which factors influence the degree of GP engagement.

Design and setting: Qualitative study based in 18 practices in the north east of England. The practices recruited included rural, urban, and mixed populations of patients predominantly living in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

Method: Theoretical sampling was used to guide recruitment of GP participants continuing until theoretical saturation was reached. Data were analysed using the constant comparative method of grounded theory and situational analysis.

Results: In total 19 GPs were recruited: 10 were female, the age range was 29–59 years, with a modal range of 40–49 years. The participants collectively described a sense of their professional competence being challenged, yet reacted with varying degrees of engagement. Three themes appeared to shape a GP’s response: performance in the clinical encounter; view of adolescents and their health needs; and the GP’s own preferred epistemological framework.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that better patterns of engagement between GPs and adolescents are supported by medical education which includes input and feedback from adolescents; education about the science and psychology of adolescence; more effective working across disciplinary boundaries; and recognition of the importance of addressing psychological difficulties early.

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More Information

Uncontrolled Keywords: Adolescent psychological difficulties; GP consultation style; youth mental health
Depositing User: Hannah Dodd


Item ID: 5069
Identification Number:
ISSN: 0960-1643
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2014 08:25
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2019 15:37


Author: John Fulton ORCID iD
Author: Jane Roberts
Author: Ann Crosland

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing
Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing > School of Nursing and Health Sciences


Sciences > Health Sciences
Sciences > Nursing

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