Chronic heart failure

December 2010


Mailing GP reply letters after psychiatric assessment

A pilot randomised controlled trial

Volume 39, No.12, December 2010 Pages 959-962

Robert Selzer

Michael McGartland

Fiona M Foley

Paul B Fitzgerald

Steve Ellen

Grant Blashki

Stuart J Lee


Patients are not always fully aware of the details of their assessment and management plan detailed in the letter sent from the specialist to the general practitioner following referral. One approach to solving this problem is for the specialist to copy the GP reply letter to the patient.


To determine whether receiving a copy of the GP reply letter improves outcomes in patients referred by their GP for a psychiatric assessment.


A single blinded randomised control trial comparing outcomes following a one-off consultation for a depressive and/or anxiety disorder in patients who received the GP reply letter sent from a community mental health service, to patients who did not.


Data was collected for 21 letter recipients and 18 control participants. A significant group by time interaction found total DASS-21 scores improved to a greater extent for the letter recipient group, no significant difference in adherence was found.

General practitioners are often overwhelmed with paperwork, including correspondence from specialist colleagues incorporating detailed management plans and suggestions for patient care. It can be difficult to ensure that these are always communicated to the patient or followed up systematically over the long term. One approach to this problem is for the specialist to copy the GP reply letter to the patient.

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