Primary care professionals' attitudes towards digital health interventions for common mental disorders: study protocol for a mixed methods systematic review

M. Hanf, J. Hirt, M. van den Akker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction Mental disorders such as depression are common, and an estimated 264 million people are affected by them throughout the world. In recent years, studies on digital health interventions to treat mental disorders have shown evidence of their efficacy, and interest in using them has increased as a result. In the primary care setting, depression and anxiety are the two most frequently diagnosed and treated mental disorders. When they do not refer them to specialists, primary care professionals such as general practitioners treat patients with mental disorders themselves but have insufficient time to treat them adequately. Furthermore, there is a shortage of psychotherapists and those that exist have long waiting lists for an appointment. The purpose of this mixed methods systematic review is to explore the attitudes of primary care professionals towards the use of digital health interventions in the treatment of patients with mental disorders. Their attitudes will provide an indication whether digital mental health interventions can effectively complement standard care in the primary care setting. Methods and analysis We searched for qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods studies published in English, German, Spanish, Russian, French and Dutch after January 2010 for inclusion in the review. The included studies must involve digital mental health interventions conducted via computer and/or mobile devices in the primary care setting. The search was conducted in July 2020 in the following electronic bibliographic databases: MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Web of Science Core Collection. Two reviewers will independently screen titles, abstracts and full texts and extract data. We will use the 'Integrated methodology' framework to combine both quantitative and qualitative data. Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval is not required. We will disseminate the results of the mixed methods systematic review in a peer-reviewed journal and scientific conferences. PROSPERO registration number CRD42020188879.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere045657
Number of pages6
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • telemedicine
  • mental health
  • primary care
  • depression & mood disorders

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