Knowledge, attitudes and practice pertaining to depression among primary health care workers in Tanzania

Mbatia, Joseph; Shah, Ajit; Jenkins, Rachel
January 2009
International Journal of Mental Health Systems;2009, Vol. 3, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Examination of consultation data in a variety of primary care settings in Tanzania shows that, while psychoses are routinely diagnosed and treated at primary care level, depression is rarely recorded as a reason for consultation. Since, epidemiological studies elswhere show that depression is a much more common disorder than psychosis, a series of studies were undertaken to elucidate this apparent paradox in Tanzania and inform mental health policy; firstly, a household prevalence study to ascertain the prevalence of common mental disorders at community level in Tanzania; secondly, a study to ascertain the prevalence of common mental disorders in primary care attenders; and thirdly, a study to ascertain the current status of the knowledge, attitude and practice pertaining to depression among primary health care workers. This paper reports the findings of the latter study. Methods: All the primary health care workers (N = 14) in four primary health care centres in Tanzania were asked to complete the Depression Attitude Questionnaire, which assesses the health worker's knowledge and attitude towards the causes, consequences and treatment of depression. Results: The majority of respondents felt that rates of depression had increased in recent years, believed that life events were important in the aetiology of depression, and generally held positive views about pharmacological and psychological treatments of depression, prognosis and their own involvement in the treatment of depressed patients. However, the majority of respondents felt that becoming depressed is a way that people with poor stamina deal with life difficulties. Conclusion: The findings suggest a need to strengthen the training of primary health care workers in Tanzania about the detection of depression, pharmacological and psychological treatments, and psychosocial interventions.


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