The relationship between chief complaints, psychological distress, and suicidal ideation in 15-24-year-old patients presenting to general practitioners

R. S. McKelvey, J. J. Pfaff, J. G. Acres

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32 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine the prevalence of psychological distress and suicidal ideation among patients aged 15-24 years presenting to general practitioners, and the relationship between these variables and patients' chief complaints. Design and setting: Questionnaire survey of young people presenting to Australian general practitioners between 1996 and 1998. Participants: 247 general practitioners who volunteered to participate in a nationwide project aimed at teaching general practitioners to identify and treat suicidal youth; 3242 consecutive 15-24-year-old patients presenting to participating general practitioners during a specified six-week period. Main outcome measures: Patients completed three self-administered questionnaires: the General Health Questionnaire-12, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, and the Depressive Symptom Inventory - Suicidality Subscale. Patients' chief complaints were obtained from summary sheets completed by their general practitioners. Results: While only 12% of patients presented with psychological complaints, about 50% percent had clinically significant levels of psychological distress and 22% had clinically significant levels of suicidal ideation. Conclusions: Despite presenting with primarily medical complaints, almost half of young people presenting to primary care physicians had high levels of psychological distress and almost a quarter had high levels of suicidal ideation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)550-552
Number of pages3
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 19 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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