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Med Care. 2006 Feb;44(2):175-81.

Case-finding for depression among medical outpatients in the Veterans Health Administration.

Author information

1
Mental Illness Research, Education, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut 06516, USA. mayur.desai@yale.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We sought to determine the rates and predictors of screening, screening positive, follow-up evaluation, and subsequent diagnosis of depression among medical outpatients.

RESEARCH DESIGN:

This was a cross-sectional study using chart-review data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 2002 External Peer Review Program merged with administrative data.

SUBJECTS AND MEASURES:

We studied a national sample of VA medical outpatients with no depression diagnosis or mental health visits in the past 6 months (n = 21,489) and used chart-review and administrative data to follow the chain of events from depression screening to diagnosis.

RESULTS:

Overall, 84.9% of eligible patients (n = 18,245) were screened for depression in the past year. Of the 8.8% who screened positive, only 54.0% received follow-up evaluation and, of these, 23.6% (n = 204) subsequently were diagnosed with a depressive disorder (representing 1.1% of the originally screened sample). Patients who were younger, unmarried, and had more medical comorbidities were less likely to be screened; however, if screened, they were more likely to screen positive. Male gender and greater medical comorbidity were associated with decreased odds of follow-up evaluation after a positive screen. At the facility level, likelihood of depression screening was inversely associated with spending on teaching and research but positively associated with spending on mental health care.

CONCLUSIONS:

VA's depression case-finding activities yielded relatively few positive cases, raising questions about cost-effectiveness. Targeted strategies may increase the value of case-finding among patients at greatest risk for depression and at more academically affiliated medical centers. Targeted efforts also are needed to ensure proper follow-up evaluation of suspected cases, particularly among male patients and those with increased medical comorbidity.

PMID:
16434917
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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