Integration of mental health comorbidity in medical specialty programs in 20 countries

Heinze, Gerhard; Sartorius, Norman; Guizar Sanchez, Diana Patricia; Bernard-Fuentes, Napoleón; Cawthorpe, David; Cimino, Larry; Cohen, Dan; Lecic-Tosevski, Dusica; Filipcic, Igor; Lloyd, Cathy; Mohan, Isaac; Ndetei, David; Poyurovsky, Michael; Rabbani, Golam; Starostina, Elena; Yifeng, Wei and EstefaníaLimon, Limón (2021). Integration of mental health comorbidity in medical specialty programs in 20 countries. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00912174211007675

Abstract

Methods

A systematic analysis was performed of the medical specialization academic programs of 20 different countries to establish which medical specialties take into account mental health issues in the specialty curricular design and which mental health content these programs address. The criteria that were explored in the educational programs include: 1) name of the medical specialties that take into account mental health content in curriculum design, 2) name of the mental health issues addressed by these programs. After independent review and data extraction, paired investigators compared the findings and reached consensus on all discrepancies before the final presentation of the data. Descriptive statistics evaluated the frequency of the data presented.

Results

Internal medicine, family medicine, neurology, pediatrics and geriatrics were the specialties that included mental health topics in their programs. In four countries: Bangladesh, Serbia, the Netherlands and France, 50%of all graduate specialty training programs include mental health content. In ten countries: Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Belgium, India, Russia, Canada, Israel and Spain, between 20% and 49% of all graduate specialty training programs include mental health content. In six countries - Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Kenya, and the United States-less than 20% of all graduate specialty training programs include mental health content.

Discussion

The proposal that we have made in this article should be taken into account by decision-makers, in order to complement the different postgraduate training programs with mental health issues that are frequently present with other physical symptoms. It is not our intention that the different specialists know how to treat psychiatric comorbidities, but rather pay attention to their existence and implications in the diagnosis, evolution and prognosis of many other diseases. The current fragmentation of medicine into ever finer specialties makes the management of comorbidity ever more difficult: a reorientation of post- graduate training might improve the situation.

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