BackgroundA significant proportion of primary care patients are affected by a depressive disorder and about half of these patients are undetected and undertreated. Methods Twenty-five primary care physicians (PCPs) were recruited in five Italian centres. All consecutive patients who attended the PCPs’ clinics in a 2-week period completed the Personal Health Questionnaire (PHQ), and those scoring more than nine on the PHQ were interviewed with the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression – 17 items (HDRS-17). The appropriateness of antidepressant drug treatment was assessed according to the decision to treat, the coverage, the type of drug and the dosage prescribed. Results The adjusted prevalence for ICD-10 depression in 2093 patients was 18.7%, while the conspicuous morbidity was 10.7%. The ability of PCPs to detect a depression increased proportionally with HDRS scores.The coverage, i. e. the proportion of patients who would benefit from an antidepressant (AD) and who actually received such drugs, was 20.9%.The drugs most frequently prescribed were SSRI (36 %), followed by TCA (21%) and by other AD. Most SSRI were prescribed at therapeutic dosage, while two-thirds of TCA were at sub-therapeutic dosage. About 37% of patients started a non-pharmacological treatment.The severity of depression at the first consultation predicted the persistence of a depressive state in the longer term. Conclusions The ability of Italian PCPs to detect depression is satisfactory when the patient’s depressive state is moderate or severe. The appropriateness of antidepressant drug treatment still needs to be improved.
Recogniton of depression and appropriateness of antidepressant treatment in Italian primary care / Balestrieri, M.; Carta, M.; Leonetti, S.; Sebastiani, G.; Starace, F.; Bellantuono, Cesario. - In: SOCIAL PSYCHIATRY AND PSYCHIATRIC EPIDEMIOLOGY. - ISSN 0933-7954. - 39:(2004), pp. 171-176.