Table of Contents
International Journal of Family Medicine
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 490634, 10 pages
Research Article

Help Seeking and Access to Primary Care for People from “Hard-to-Reach” Groups with Common Mental Health Problems

1Mental Health and Wellbeing, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Waterhouse Building, Liverpool L69 3GL, UK
2School of Community-Based Medicine, Primary Care Research Group and National School of Primary Care Research, University of Manchester, Williamson Building, Manchester M13 9PL, UK

Received 14 December 2010; Revised 15 February 2011; Accepted 13 April 2011

Academic Editor: Stewart Mercer

Copyright © 2011 K. Bristow et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. In the UK, most people with mental health problems are managed in primary care. However, many individuals in need of help are not able to access care, either because it is not available, or because the individual's interaction with care-givers deters or diverts help-seeking. Aims. To understand the experience of seeking care for distress from the perspective of potential patients from “hard-to-reach” groups. Methods. A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews, analysed using a thematic framework. Results. Access to primary care is problematic in four main areas: how distress is conceptualised by individuals, the decision to seek help, barriers to help-seeking, and navigating and negotiating services. Conclusion. There are complex reasons why people from “hard-to-reach” groups may not conceptualise their distress as a biomedical problem. In addition, there are particular barriers to accessing primary care when distress is recognised by the person and help-seeking is attempted. We suggest how primary care could be more accessible to people from “hard-to-reach” groups including the need to offer a flexible, non-biomedical response to distress.