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J Am Board Fam Med. 2010 Jul-Aug;23(4):499-508. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2010.04.090299.

Antidepressant medication use for primary care patients with and without medical comorbidities: a national electronic health record (EHR) network study.

Author information

1
Delaware Valley Outcomes Research, Newark, DE 19711, USA. gillj@dvoresearch.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Because comorbid depression can complicate medical conditions (eg, diabetes), physicians may treat depression more aggressively in patients who have these conditions. This study examined whether primary care physicians prescribe antidepressant medications more often and in higher doses for persons with medical comorbidities.

METHODS:

This secondary data analysis of electronic health record data was conducted in the Centricity Health Care User Research Network (CHURN), a national network of ambulatory practices that use a common outpatient electronic health record. Participants included 209 family medicine and general internal medicine providers in 40 primary care CHURN offices in 17 US states. Patients included adults with a new episode of depression that had been diagnosed during the period October 2006 through July 2007 (n = 1513). Prescription of antidepressant medication and doses of antidepressant medication were compared for patients with and without 6 comorbid conditions: diabetes, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer.

RESULTS:

20.7% of patients had at least one medical comorbidity whereas 5.8% had multiple comorbidities. Overall, 77% of depressed patients were prescribed antidepressant medication. After controlling for age and sex, patients with multiple comorbidities were less likely to be prescribed medication (adjusted odds ratio, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.35-0.96), but there was no significant difference by individual comorbidities. Patients with cerebrovascular disease were less likely to be prescribed a full dose of medication (adjusted odds ratio, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.08-0.88), but there were no differences for other comorbidities or for multiple comorbidities, and there was no difference for any comorbidities in the prescription of minimally effective doses.

CONCLUSIONS:

Patients with new episodes of depression who present to a primary care practice are not treated more aggressively if they have medical comorbidities. In fact, patients with multiple comorbidities are treated somewhat less aggressively.

PMID:
20616292
DOI:
10.3122/jabfm.2010.04.090299
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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