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A Letter of Consequence: Referral Letters from General Practitioners to Secondary Mental Health Services

Shaw, Ian; Clegg Smith, Katherine M; Middleton, Hugh; Woodward, Louise

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Authors

IAN SHAW IAN.SHAW@NOTTINGHAM.AC.UK
Professor of Health Policy

Katherine M Clegg Smith

Hugh Middleton

Louise Woodward



Abstract

The referral letter is a key instrument in moving patients from primary to secondary care services. Consequently, the circumstances in which a referral should be made and its contents have been the subject of clinical guidelines. This article is based on a project that demonstrated
that physicians do not adhere to clinical guidelines when referring patients to secondary mental health services. This research supports earlier findings into noncompliance
with guidelines by general practitioners (GPs). The authors briefly note possible reasons, which have been the subject of some debate. They also present a content analysis of referral letters to demonstrate the important ways in which they differ from guideline criteria. However, their central argument is that the role of the referral letter in relation to the GP’s repertoire of treatments has not been understood fully. Such understanding implies the need for a reexamination of the support available for GPs.

Journal Article Type Article
Deposit Date Feb 5, 2008
Journal Qualitative Health Research
Print ISSN 1049-7323
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Keywords referral letter; general practitioners; ritual; communication
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1026448