Discourses of depression of Australian general practitioners working with gay men

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The data for this article are from a primary health care project on HIV and depression, in which the prevalence, nature, clinical management, and self-management of depression among homosexually active men attending high-HIV-caseload general practice clinics were investigated. One of the qualitative arms consisted of in-depth interviews with general practitioners (GPs) with high caseloads of gay men. The approach to discourse analysis was informed by Halliday’s systemic functional linguistics. GPs constructed three discourses of depression: engaging with psychiatric discourse, engaging with the patient’s world, and engaging with social structures. When GPs drew on the discourse of psychiatry, this discourse was positioned as only one possible construction of depression. This discourse was also contextualized in the social lives of gay men, and it was explicitly challenged and rejected. Engaging with their patients’ social world was considered vital for recognizing depression in gay men. Finally, the GPs’ construction of depression was inextricably linked to social disadvantage and marginalization. Depression is highly heterogeneous and constructed in terms of social relationships rather than as an independent entity that resides in the individual. There is a synergy between GPs’ constructions of depression and men’s experiences of depression, which differs from conventional medical views, and which enables GPs to be highly effective in dealing with the mental health issues of their gay patients.
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Korner, Henrike
Newman, Christy
Mao, Limin
Kidd, Michael
Saltman, Deborah
Kippax, Susan
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