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Research project


Project overview

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a rapid shift to remote consultations and caused numerous disruptions to clinical routines for patients and clinicians. The aim of this pilot study is to explore how new mental health problems (e.g. anxiety or depression) are discussed and managed by GPs and ANPs in remote telephone and face-to-face consultations involving adult patients.

Aim(s) of the research: To explore how patients with possible symptoms or concerns about mental health (for example, stress, anxiety, depression) raise their problems for discussion, in consultations sought for reasons other than mental health, and compare the extent to which clinicians pick-up on these symptoms/concerns during telephone and face-to-face consultations. We aim to recruit adult patients and both GPs and nurses to help us with our research.

Design and methods used: We will first interview 10-20 clinicians and 15-25 patients, to understand their experiences of seeking medical help or providing care, on the telephone and face-to-face, about mental health problems, and ask them about their views about any communication barriers that might be affecting their discussions. We will also ask 5-7 clinicians to record a small number of their telephone and face-to-face consultations to explore how patients raise possible symptoms/concerns about mental health, and whether clinicians pick up on these concerns and discuss them with the patient. We will analyse the data using Conversation Analysis which is a well-established method for understanding communication.

Patient and public involvement: Two patient and public contributors are involved in this research. They have provided verbal and written feedback on this application to make sure the topic is important and the research objectives are clear. They will both be involved in team meetings, reviewing patient documents and helping us with our analyses over the course of the 12 months of the project.

Dissemination: We want to use the findings to improve the delivery of care for mental health problems to ensure patients are getting the help that they need and clinicians feel able to provide it. We aim to publish two papers from this research and use the findings to design a larger study in the future to develop and test communication resources for patients and/or training for clinicians to improve consultations involving new mental health symptoms.


This study is being conducted by the Primary Care Research Centre.


Lead researcher

Professor Tony Kendrick BSc MD FRCGP FRCPsych FHEA

Professor of Primary Care
Other researchers

Dr Adam Geraghty BSc MSc PhD CPsychol FHEA

Assoc Prof Psychology & Behavioural Med

Research interests

  • Self-management of pain and other chronic symptoms/conditions
  • Mental health
  • Digital interventions for primary care and public health

Professor Geraldine Leydon

Prof of Medicine, Sociology & Healthcare

Research interests

  • Healthcare communication
  • Qualitative methods in health reesarch 
  • Optimising the patient experience

Dr Catherine Woods PhD

Research Fellow in REDUCE Study

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

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