Diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders: A survey of Singapore mental health professionals

G. Parker, R. Mahendran, S. G. Yeo, M. I. Loh, A. F. Jorm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A series of surveys of mental health literacy have been undertaken in Australia, involving members of the general public as well as general practitioners and mental health professionals, whereby respondents consider vignettes of depression and of schizophrenia, offer a diagnosis and rate a series of possible interventions for their judged helpfulness. A similar survey was undertaken in Singapore and is reported in this paper.

Methods: The survey was undertaken at a large state psychiatric hospital with staff (psychiatrists, allied health professionals, psychiatrically and generally trained nursing staff) rating a vignette of mania, in addition to the vignettes derived in Australia for depression and schizophrenia, and with the Australian intervention options extended somewhat to respect Singapore facilities.

Results: Responses of those in the four professional groups were compared. The psychiatrists were highly accurate in generating diagnoses, other staff somewhat less so for diagnosing depression (with a percentage instead choosing a diagnosis of stress) and mania (with a percentage instead diagnosing a schizophrenic condition). Reported helpfulness ratings identified those interventions judged consensually as likely to be helpful or harmful, as well as establishing some differences across the four professional groups.

Conclusions: The consensus decisions of helpful treatments for depression and schizophrenia revealed very similar findings to judgements made by Australian professionals. The treated outcome of schizophrenia was judged as somewhat worse than that for mania and depression. While non-medical staff differed from psychiatrists in judging the comparative utility of some drug interventions and lifestyle issues, there was clear evidence of a relatively dominant 'medical model' to recommended treatments, while traditional healing practices and services were rated as distinctly unhelpful.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-563
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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