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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2011 Jan-Feb;33(1):66-74. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2010.12.002. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

The relationship between treatment settings and diagnostic attributions of depression among African Americans.

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Department of Social and Behavioral Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, PO Box 980212, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.



To explore the relationship between treatment setting characteristics and diagnostic attributions of depression among community-dwelling African Americans.


Data come from the National Survey of American Life, a nationally representative sample of African Americans and Caribbean Blacks. Major Depression (MD) was assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Inventory. Participants were categorized into four diagnostic groups: never MD, MD never attributed to physical health problems (i.e., affective depression), MD sometimes attributed to physical health problems (i.e., complicated depression), and MD always attributed to physical health problems (i.e., physical depression). Multinomial regression was used for assessment.


Among 441 participants, 66.4% were classified as affective depression, 17.8% as complicated depression and 15.8% as physical depression. Seeking treatment from a mental health professional was associated with increased likelihood of being in the complicated depression group [adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 5.52; 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.28-13.36]. Seeking treatment from a family doctor was associated with physical depression (AOR: 2.93; 95% CI: 1.18-7.26). Seeking care from three or more different health care providers was associated with complicated depression (AOR: 1.99; 95% CI: 1.17-3.40).


Results suggest that encounters with health care providers influence the diagnostic attribution of depression in a systematic manner.

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