• An analysis of the acceptability, feasibility, and utility of the Global Mental Health Assessment Tool for Primary Care (GMHAT/PC) in a UK primary healthcare setting: a practice-based mixed methods study

      Mason-Whitehead, Elizabeth; Sharma, Vimal; Quinn, Bennett N. E. (University of Chester, 2021-02)
      Introduction: Published evidence shows that at least one in four people at any one time have mental health symptoms, most commonly of anxiety and depression. This is set against a background where the evidence demonstrates that primary care in general is poorly equipped to identify, diagnose and manage mental health disorders. The effect of these disorders affects the individual’s physical and social wellbeing and has an impact at all levels of Society. This study investigates the acceptability and feasibility of the Global Mental Health Assessment Tool for primary care (GMHAT/PC), and the impact of using it on the confidence and self-rated competence of healthcare workers. The Global Mental Health Assessment Tool for primary care (GMHAT/PC) is a computerised semi-structured interview tool to support a healthcare worker in the assessment of patients presenting with mental health symptoms. While single diagnosis tools are now more widely used in UK general practice, semi-structured mental health interview tools are not. GMHAT/PC was developed in the UK using resources from both community mental health services and primary care. Used in clinical practice, GMHAT/PC guides a healthcare worker through a comprehensive mental health assessment and its greater use has the potential to increase their diagnostic accuracy. With diagnostic accuracy comes more appropriate patient management. Method: The study deploys mixed methods research strategies in a UK general medical practice setting. Fifty-five healthcare workers were trained in the use of GMHAT/PC. They provided pre- and post-training self-ratings and participated in semi-structured interviews to provide views of the feasibility of the tool and its impact on their confidence and self-rated competence in mental health assessments. After training, the healthcare workers interviewed 198 patients with mental health symptoms using GMHAT/PC. The patients completed a questionnaire exploring their views of the time taken for the interview, whether it addressed their symptoms and whether they found it acceptable. Seventeen patients were also interviewed to further explore their opinions. Results: Ninety-nine per cent (99%) of the patient participants found the use of GMHAT/PC in their clinical assessment either “somewhat acceptable” or “very acceptable” (2 (1) = 6.636, N = 198, p = .010). Most healthcare workers identified time as a barrier to GMHAT/PC’s feasibility but viewed its use as feasible, provided that additional time was available for the assessment, such as extra appointment time, arranging an appointment at the end of a consulting session, or delegating the assessment to another healthcare worker with less time pressures. There was a statistically significant improvement in the self-rated competence (T = 253, z = 4.221, p < .001) and confidence (T = 378, z = 4.560, p < .001) of healthcare workers still in undergraduate training. For healthcare workers working under the supervision of a fully qualified general practitioner, statistically significant improvements were also seen in self-rated competence (T = 73, z = 2.801, p = .005) and confidence (T = 150, z = 3.491, p < .001). There was no statistically significant change in the confidence and self-rated competence of fully certified practitioners. Conclusion: The results show that the use of GMHAT/PC is highly acceptable to patients. Its use is feasible provided additional time is made available for the interview. There were improvements in the confidence and self-rated competence of undergraduate healthcare workers and those working under supervision. This research is important because it shows how the use of a tool such as GMHAT/PC could support healthcare workers in their practice, facilitating more accurate diagnoses and hopefully reducing the burden of mental health disorders for the individual and their societal settings. Future research should assess the value of semi-structured interview tools, such as GMHAT/PC, in developing trainee healthcare workers’ skills in mental health assessments, most particularly for common mental health disorders which cause significant disability for a large proportion of Society. Healthcare workers were concerned about the additional consultation time required for the GMHAT/PC interview. Future research could assess the impact of a semi-structured mental health interview on the patient’s subsequent consulting patterns.