Background: Diverse and sustained efforts have been developed to improve the management of depression by general practitioners (GPs), but they have not improved treatment coverage and quality of services. Aim: To explore the level of knowledge and clinical skills to diagnose and treat depression by GPs in Primary Health Care (PHC) in the Metropolitan Area of Santiago de Chile (RM). Material and methods: Theoretical knowledge (TK), diagnostic skills (DS) and treatment skills (TS) were evaluated in 56 GPs of the RM with a battery of specially designed instruments. Results: In TK there were significant differences between GPs aged 31 years or less and their older counterparts and between Chilean and foreign doctors. Five percent of observed differences in TK were explained by age and nationality, respectively. Chilean GPs achieved higher scores in recognition of symptoms (RS), one of the dimensions of DS. No significant differences by age or nationality were observed for DS and TS. Conclusions: Achievement of GPs on tests measuring TK, DS, and TS was generally below 50%. This deficiency should be improved.
Clinical competence; Depressive disorder; General practitioners; Primary Health Care