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Salud mental

versão impressa ISSN 0185-3325


HEINZE, Gerhard  e  CORTES, José F.. Treatment preference and attitude toward pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy in Latin America. ULAD Task Force. Salud Ment [online]. 2005, vol.28, n.1, pp.10-17. ISSN 0185-3325.

The development of psychopharmacolgy has reached a considerable progress in the treatment of mental illnesses, although patients have an ambivalent opinion regarding its use. It is generally believed that psychoactive drugs produce secondary effects, such as the potential capacity to create addiction. Little is known about the health professionals' attitude towards the risks or benefits of psychopharmacology in the treatment of mental illnesses.


To determine the preferences towards the type of treatment (psychopharmacology vs. psychotherapy) and the attitudes in regard to the specific use of psychodrugs that prevail among health professionals in 13 countries of Latin America.


A total of l868 surveys was applied to psychiatrists, non-psychiatric doctors, and psychologists in l3 countries of Latin America. The survey covered the following items: a) questionnaire on the preferences regarding the treatment of mental illnesses, including personality disorders; b) attitude scale on the use of psychodrugs, and c) patient's attitude perceived by doctors while prescribing psychotherapeutical drugs.


Pharmacotherapy was preferred by non-psychiatric doctors; psychologists had a negative attitude towards its use pointing out its secondary effects and the risk of addiction; psychiatrists and non-psychiatric doctors held a more favorable opinion. Doctors' opinion as to the patients' attitude towards psychotherapeutical drugs indicates that the latter accept taking them when they are properly informed regarding its use.


There is no doubt that psychiatrists and non-psychiatric doctors have a better knowledge about the benefits offered by psychoactive drugs and their potential secondary effects. Psychologists postulate psychotherapy as basic treatment because their knowledge about the benefits of pharmacological treatment is limited. Nonpsychiatric doctors have a medical education that permits them to know more deeply the therapeutical action of psychotherapeutical drugs despite knowing less about the psychotherapeutical process.

Palavras-chave : Psychodrugs; attitude; pharmacotherapy; psychotherapy.

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