The care provided by general practitioners for persistent depression

TWDP Van Os*, RHS Van den Brink, K Van der Meer, J Ormel

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose. - To examine the care provided by general practitioners (GPs) for persistent depressive illness and its relationship to patient, illness and consultation characteristics.

Subjects and method. - Using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Primary Health Care Version (CIDI-PHC) a sample of 264 patients with ICD-10 depression was identified among consecutive primary care patients in the Netherlands. At I-year follow-up 78 of these patients (30%) still fulfilled the criteria of an ICD-10 depression and were considered persistent cases. At baseline and follow-up the GPs specified their diagnosis and treatment. The extent of recognition as a mental health problem, accuracy of diagnosis as a depression and treatment in accordance with clinical guidelines for depression was examined. In addition it was examined whether these steps in adequate GP care for persistent depression were related to patient, illness and consultation characteristics.

Results. - Twenty percent of the persistent depression cases were not recognized at baseline or during follow-up, 28% was recognized but not accurately diagnosed, 17% was accurately diagnosed, but did not receive adequate treatment and 35% was treated adequately. Recognition was associated with psychological reason for encounter; accurate diagnosis with absence of activity limitation days; and adequate treatment with severity of depression and higher educational level.

Conclusion. - Non-recognition, misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment are not limited to patients with a relatively mild and brief depression but are also prominent in patients with a persistent depression, who consulted their GP 8.2 times on average during the year their depression persisted. (c) 2005 Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2006


  • persistent depression
  • process of care
  • primary care
  • UK

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