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Review: primary care counselling improves psychological symptoms in patients with psychological and psychosocial problems

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 QUESTION: In patients with psychological and psychosocial problems, is counselling in primary care effective and cost effective?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching databases including Medline; EMBASE/Excerpta Medica; PsycLIT; CINAHL; the Cochrane Library; and the Cochrane Collaboration Depression, Anxiety, and Neurosis Register of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) and controlled clinical trials (for trials completed by April 1998). Search terms included primary health care, counselling, psychotherapy, general practice, and clinical psychology. A specialist journal was hand searched, bibliographies of relevant studies were scanned, and experts were contacted.

Study selection

Published and unpublished studies in all languages were selected if they were RCTs; examined patients with psychological or psychosocial problems who were suitable for counselling; used a clear definition of counselling compatible …

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  • Sources of funding: University of Leeds and University of Manchester.

  • For correspondence: Ms N Rowland, Bootham Park Hospital, York, UK. Nancy.Rowland{at}