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Patient Educ Couns. 2006 Nov;63(3):314-8. Epub 2006 Jul 26.

The assessment of depressive patients' involvement in decision making in audio-taped primary care consultations.

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  • 1University Hospital of Freiburg, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Section Clinical Epidemiology and Health Services Research, Germany.



In primary care of depression treatment options such as antidepressants, counseling and psychotherapy are reasonable. Patient involvement could foster adherence and clinical outcome. However, there is a lack of empirical information about the extent to which general practitioners involve patients in decision making processes in this condition, and about the consultation time spent for distinct decision making tasks.


Twenty general practice consultations with depressive patients prior to a treatment decision were audio-taped and transcribed. Patient involvement in decision making was assessed with the OPTION-scale and durations of decision making stages were measured.


Mean duration of consultations was 16 min, 6s. The mean of the OPTION-items were between 0.0 and 26.9, in a scale range from 0 to 100. Overall, 78.6% of the consultation time was spent for the step "problem definition" (12 min, 42 s).


Very low levels of patient involvement in medical decisions were observed in consultations about depression. Physicians used the majority of their time for the definition of the patient's medical problem.


To improve treatment decision making in this condition, general practitioners should enhance their decision making competences and be more aware of the time spent in each decision making stage.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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