MENTAL HEALTH IN PRIMARY HEALTH CARE; A NEED ASSESSMENT STUD
Objectives: To identify various somatic symptoms among the selected patients and their families for underlying psychological problems and to identify the barriers faced by them in health seeking regarding such problems.
Study Design: Cross-sectional study.
Place and Duration of Study: This study was conducted in residential areas of Rawalpindi, over a period of six months, from Nov 2016 to Apr 2017.
Methodology: Three hundred and ten adult males along with the adult females of their families were selected using non-probability consecutive sampling The adults (above 18 years) were interviewed by trained nurses and public health assistants using structured validated questionnaire, Lahore Somatic inventory Scale after verbal informed consent The adults who were unwilling or already diagnosed with any psychiatric disorder were exclu-ded. Data was entered and analyzed using SPSS 21.
Results: Among 310, 129 (41.9%) were males and 181 (58.4%) were females. The symptoms reported were recorded on three point Likert scale, 1 to 3. Top ten symptoms reported in descending order were lack of energy/ weakness 49 (15.8%), pain or tension in neck and shoulder 42 (13.5%), aches & pains 41 (13.2%), feeling tired 39 (12.6%), mostly aware of palpitations 29 (9.4%), head bursting 28 (9%), feeling wind or belching 18 (5.8%), pain in chest or heart 22 (7.1%), constipation 21 (6.8%), constriction around head 21 (6.8%). On exploring reasons for not contacting a psychologist or health facility, 110 (35.48%) said that they didn’t know exactly whom to consult while 82 (26.45%) said that mental disorder is a stigma in our society and 74 (23.87%) were of the opinion that they were fearful of prolonged medication.
Conclusion: The most common psychosomatic symptoms identified were lack of energy or generalized weakness followed by aches and pains and feeling tired. Most of the participants didn’t take help from a health specialist due to lack of awareness and stigmatized nature of illness.