Document Type



Community Health Sciences; Family Medicine


Objective: To assess psychiatric morbidity and the perceptions about psychiatric illness, among patients presenting to family physicians, at a teaching hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.
Methods: A questionnaire based survey was developed to collect demographic data, information on psychiatric morbidity and perceptions on psychiatric illness. It was administered to 400 patients, against a sample size of 347. The study objective was explained, written consent was taken and confidentiality was assured.
Results: There were more women then men in the study, with a mean age of 37 years. The majority was married, better educated and socioeconomically placed then the rest of the population. A total of 175 (43.75%) subjects reported psychiatric illness in the family. A psychiatrist or a family physician diagnosed the illness in 110 (62.85%) and 37 (21.14%) of the cases, respectively. A total of 68 (38.85%) subjects reported reluctance in accepting a diagnosis of psychiatric illness. A total of 296 (74%) of the respondents thought that psychiatric illness is stigmatized and therefore treatment is not sought for it. Alternate treatment for psychiatric illness were quoted as seeking treatment from a Hakim (49 subjects, 12.3%), spiritual healers (49 subjects, 12.3%) and family support (10 subjects, 2.5%). A total of 121 (30%) subjects thought that psychiatric illness is caused by supernatural powers and spirits. A total of 109 (27.3%) subjects felt a need to seek psychiatric help, but did not visit a psychiatrist because of reluctance.
Conclusion: Considerable psychiatric morbidity exists among our patient population and is stigmatized. We recommend improvement in psychiatric services, as well as patient education programs.


Asia Pacific Family Medicine

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.