Original Research

Designing an educational programme in mental health for general practitioners in South Africa

Richard John Nichol, Brenda de Klerk, Maria Magdalena Nel, Gert Jacobus Van Zyl, John Francis Hay
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 20, No 1 | a487 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v20i1.487 | © 2014 Richard John Nichol, Brenda de Klerk, Maria Magdalena Nel, Gert Jacobus Van Zyl, John Francis Hay | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 August 2013 | Published: 30 April 2014

About the author(s)

Richard John Nichol, Department of Psychiatry, School of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, South Africa
Brenda de Klerk, Department of Community Health, School of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, South Africa
Maria Magdalena Nel, Department of Health Science Education, School of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, South Africa
Gert Jacobus Van Zyl, Dean, School of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
John Francis Hay, Programme Director, Department of Initial Teacher Education, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, South Africa

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Abstract

Background. With the new Mental Health Care Act in use, additional demands will be placed on general practitioners to provide adequate care for mental health patients. The College of Psychiatry of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa awards a Postgraduate Diploma in Mental Health (PGDipMH) to medical doctors, but there is no standardised formal tuition or curriculum available to potential candidates.

Objectives. A study was undertaken to design a postgraduate programme using a six-step process to assist medical practitioners in preparing for the PGDipMH.

Methods. The Delphi research method, a nomi nal group technique for developing forecasts and trends based on the collective opinion of knowledgeable experts, was used. Data, obtained by means of closed items in a questionnaire, were analysed, and the opinions and ideas of the expert respondents were used to adapt the formulated set of criteria for each subsequent round of Delphi. This process was repeated until 80% consensus or stability had been reached. After the last round, a framework and final set of criteria were compiled.

Results. The preferred mode of teaching was online distance learning utilising electronic learning and limited formal learning. The content of the curriculum was based on the findings of the Delphi study experts. The programme as a complete entity contains six steps.

Conclusion. Using the recommendations and findings of the Delphi panel, a comprehensive programme was developed, which shows an appreciation for the interfaces between the different role-players (the patient/so-called mental healthcare user and the doctor as learner), outcomes-based education and distance learning.


Keywords

adult learning; blended learning; curriculum; Delphi technique; e-learning; higher education; mental health; outcomes-based education; postgraduate education; primary healthcare; psychiatry

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