A sample of 307 respondents consisting of 83 general medical practitioners (GP), 100 patients of medical practitioners (P-GP), 61 psychologists (PSY), and 63 patients of psychologists (P-PSY) were surveyed concerning the factors involved in the selection of a psychologist, and their knowledge and comprehension of psychologists' qualifications, professional associations, and registration requirements. Respondents reported that knowledge of psychologists' specialisation, qualifications, experience, professional membership, and registration were important in selection and referral. Overall 58.3% of respondents did not know the qualifications of the psychologist they were seeing or referring to (P-PSY 68%, GP 76%, PSY 28%). Most patients and professionals reported difficulty in understanding the abbreviated degree titles of psychologists (P-GP 93%, P-PSY 81%, GP 82%, PSY 39%) and few respondents considered that a list of APS-approved degrees were legitimate psychologist qualifications. Similarly, very few respondents were able to comprehend the abbreviations for the names of professional associations to which psychologists frequently belong (P-GP 6%, P-PSY 10%, GP 17%, PSY 43%). All groups expressed a strong preference for psychologists' qualifications and their memberships of professional associations to be provided in plain English (P-GP 94%, P-PSY 79%, GP 92%, PSY 66%). In contrast, virtually all respondents were able to recognise abbreviations for the most common degree titles of a number of other prominent professions (P-GP 92%, P-PSY 93%, GP 99%, PSY 99%). Only a small majority of respondents knew that practising psychologists were required by law to be registered (P-GP 28%, P-PSY 65%, GP 64%, PSY 95%). The implications of the results are discussed in terms of the need for the universities and the Australian Psychological Society to simplify the number and naming of accredited psychology degrees, and the need for more complete information to be made available in plain English to clients, referral agents, registration boards, and health insurance bodies.
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - Nov 1998|