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BMC Fam Pract. 2006 Jan 30;7:5.

Roles and practices of general practitioners and psychiatrists in management of depression in the community.

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  • 1Medical Evaluation Department, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille, Marseille, France. sophie.tardieu@ap-hm.fr

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Little is known about depressed patients' profiles and how they are managed. The aim of the study is to compare GPs and psychiatrists for 1 degrees) sociodemographic and clinical profile of their patients considered as depressed 2 degrees) patterns of care provision.

METHODS:

The study design is an observational cross-sectional study on a random sample of GPs and psychiatrists working in France. Consecutive inclusion of patients seen in consultation considered as depressed by the physician. GPs enrolled 6,104 and psychiatrists 1,433 patients.

DATA COLLECTED:

sociodemographics, psychiatric profile, environmental risk factors of depression and treatment. All clinical data were collected by participating physicians; there was no direct independent clinical assessment of patients to check the diagnosis of depressive disorder.

RESULTS:

Compared to patients identified as depressed by GPs, those identified by psychiatrists were younger, more often urban (10.5% v 5.4% - OR = 2.4), educated (42.4% v 25.4% - OR = 3.9), met DSM-IV criteria for depression (94.6% v 85.6% - OR = 2.9), had been hospitalized for depression (26.1% v 15.6% - OR = 2.0) and were younger at onset of depressive problems (all adjusted p < .001). No difference was found for psychiatric and somatic comorbidity, suicide attempt and severity of current depression. Compared to GPs, psychiatrists more often prescribed tricyclics and very novel antidepressants (7.8% v 2.3% OR = 5.0 and 6.8% v 3.0% OR = 3.8) with longer duration of antidepressant treatment. GPs' patients received more "non-conventional" treatment (8.8% v 2.4% OR = 0.3) and less psychotherapy (72.2% v 89.1% OR = 3.1) (all adjusted p < .001).

CONCLUSION:

Differences between patients mainly concerned educational level and area of residence with few differences regarding clinical profile. Differences between practices of GPs and psychiatrists appear to reflect more the organization of the French care system than the competence of providers.

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