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Primary care physicians are often the first contact for people with mental health concerns. Moreover, many patients with mental health concerns are parents caring for dependent children. The aim of this study was to investigate the family focused practices of a group of primary care physicians when working with patients who are parents and experience mental health concerns. A sequential mixed method design (questionnaire followed by interviews) was employed, early 2015, in general medical settings across six Australian states. Twenty one primary care physicians (12 female, 9 male) across different medical settings completed the Family Focused Mental Health Practice Questionnaire; nine of these were interviewed. Participants reported a moderate amount of family focused practice when working with patients who are parents with mental health issues. Many acknowledged the importance of working with patients on family issues but reported barriers in doing so. Clear guidelines, including the recording of parenting status, need to be in place for primary care physicians working with patients who are parents.
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