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Trautmann, Sebastian; Beesdo-Baum, Katja; Knappe, Susanne; Einsle, Franziska; Knothe, Lisa; Wieder, Gesine; Venz, John; Rummel-Kluge, Christine; Heinz, Ines; Koburger, Nicole; Schouler-Ocak, Meryam; Wilbertz, Theresia; Unger, Hans-Peter; Walter, Ulrich; Hein, Joachim; Hegerl, Ulrich; Lieb, Roselind; Pfennig, Andrea; Schmitt, Jochen; Hoyer, Jürgen; Wittchen, Hans-Ulrich; Bergmann, Antje (2017): The Treatment of Depression in Primary Care. A Cross-sectional Epidemiological Study. In: Deutsches Ärzteblatt international, Vol. 114, No. 43: pp. 721-728
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Abstract

Background: General practitioners play a key role in the care of patients with depressive disorders. We studied the frequency and type of treatment of depressive disorders in primary care. Methods: In a cross-sectional epidemiological study on a particular day in six different regions in Germany, 253 physicians and 3563 unselected patients were asked to fill in a questionnaire assessing the diagnosis and treatment of depression. A total of 3431 usable patient data sets and 3211 sets of usable data from both the patient and the physician were subjected to further analysis. Results: 68.0% of the 490 patients in primary care who were classified as depressed according to the Depression Screening Questionnaire received treatment from their general practitioner or in other care settings;the probability of being treated by the general practitioner was higher for patients whose diagnosis was recognized by the general practitioner (92.8%) than for the remaining depressed patients (47.8%). On the day of data recording, 54.1% of the depressed patients were under treatment by the general practitioner and 21.2% had been referred to specialized treatment. Approximately 60% of the depressed patients were not being treated, as recommended in the guidelines, with antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy, or both. The likelihood of being treated in conformity with the guidelines depended on whether or not the general practitioner had made the diagnosis of depression (odds ratio [OR] = 7.5;95% confidence interval = [4.9;11.6];p < 0,001);it was also higher if the general practitioner had an additional qualification in psychotherapy (OR = 1.9;[1.1;3.4];p = 0.022). Conclusion: The finding that a relevant proportion of patients with depressive disorders in primary care are inadequately treated indicates the need to improve general practitioners' ability to diagnose these conditions and determine the indication for treatment.