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Review: primary care counselling improves short term but not long term 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 June 2001). Search terms included primary health care, counselling, psychotherapy, general practice, and clinical psychology. 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Published and unpublished studies in all languages were selected if they were RCTs; examined patients with psychological …

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  • Sources of funding: Universities of York, Leeds' and Manchester, UK.

  • For correspondence: Dr P Bower, National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. peter.bower{at}

  • A modified version of this abstract appears in Evidence-Based Medicine.