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FPs miss primary nature of depression in HMO study.

HONOLULU -- A study conducted at an Ohio HMO suggests that family physicians are failing to properly address depression in their patients, even when they have conspicuously identified it, Lori A. Milo, Ph. D., said at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

The study, presented as a poster, reviewed a year's worth of records at the HMO. In 77% of visits in which depression was diagnosed, it was listed as secondary to another comorbid condition, said Dr. Milo, a research associate at Summa Health System of Akron (Ohio).

According to the poster, that means the doctors are not taking depression seriously enough.

"If we're not treating their depression as a primary condition, we're missing the boat," Dr. Milo said in an interview. "The medical establishment is trying to move to a paradigm of depression as a primary illness."

Primary care physicians in this country provide 70% of the care for mental health conditions, and probably an even greater percentage of the care for depression.

The investigators reviewed all the patients seen in family medicine in Akron offices of Summa Health in 2003, a total of 14,871 visits. Among those visits, an ICD code for major depression was used in 1,179 visits representing 630 patients. However, only in 272 of those visits (23%) was the depression listed as the first presenting diagnosis.


Sacramento Bureau
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Title Annotation:Adult Psychiatry
Author:Kirn, Timothy F.
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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