Psychological distress and suicidal ideation among 15-24-year-olds presenting to general practice: A pilot study

Robert (Bob) McKelvey, Lisa C. Davies, Jon J. Pfaff, John Acres, Stephen Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Objectives: The study sought to determine: (i) the prevalence rates of psychological distress and suicidal ideation among 15-24-year-old patients presenting to general practice; and (ii) the relationship between patients' presenting complaints and their levels of psychological distress and suicidal ideation. Method: This was a pilot study designed to sample patients aged 15-24 years presenting consecutively to general practitioners during a 4-week period. The study was set among five general practices in the western suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. Participants included five general practitioners and 69 patients aged 15-24 years. Main outcome measures were the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Depressive Symptom Inventory-Suicidality Subscale (DSI-SS). Results: One-third of patients scored above the cut-off of the GHQ-12, 31.9% above the cut-off of the CES-D and 20.3% above the cut-off of the DSI-SS. The majority of patients (87.5%) presented with medical complaints. Of these, 26.8%, 23.2% and 21.4% scored above the cut-offs of the GHQ-12, CES-D and DSI-SS, respectively. Patients presenting with psychological complaints (12.5%) were significantly more likely to score above the cut-off of the CES-D. Conclusions: In this pilot study, patients aged 15-24 presenting to five general practices had relatively high levels of psychological distress and suicidal ideation. Of most concern were those presenting with medical complaints and who also had high levels of unreported psychological distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-348
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes



  • General practice
  • Psychological distress
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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