To determine whether patient gender influences physicians' management of late-life major depression in older and younger elderly patients.
In 1996-2001, physician subjects viewed a professionally produced videotape vignette portraying an elderly patient meeting diagnostic criteria for major depression, then answered interviewer-administered questions about differential diagnosis and treatment. Patient gender and other characteristics were systematically varied in different versions of the videotape, but clinical content was held constant. This was a stratified random sample of 243 internists and family physicians with Veterans Health Administration (VA) or non-VA ambulatory care practices in the Northeastern United States. Outcomes were whether physicians followed a guideline-recommended management approach: treating with antidepressants or mental health referral or both and seeing the patient for follow-up within 2 weeks.
Only 19% of physicians recommended treating depression (12% recommended antidepressants and 7% mental health referral), and 43% recommended follow-up within 2 weeks. Patient gender did not influence management recommendations in either younger old (67 year old) or older old (79 year old) patients (p > 0.12 for all comparisons).
Gender disparities previously documented in the management of major conditions are not seen for the management of depression, a potentially stigmatized condition that does not require resource-intense interventions.
"Standard clinical guidelines recommend follow-up within 2 weeks for patients with depression to assess for side effects, drug interactions , and worsening of depressive symptoms (Frayne, Skinner, Lin, Ash, & Freund, 2004; Unutzer, 2007). A study conducted by Frayne et al., (2004) discovered that even when PCP's identified depression in the elder patient (which was 50% of the time), only 19% recommended treatment. In addition, the study found that of those 19% who received treatment, only 12% were actually treated with an antidepressant, and only half of those patients were provided appropriate follow-up (Strothers et al., 2005). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examined the prevalence of depressive symptoms over time in a sample of community-residing older adults at baseline, 2 months, 6 months, and 14 months. The nonprobability sample (N = 222) was 90% female, 87% Caucasian, 15% Hispanic, and 12% African American with an average age of 75 years. If depressive symptoms had been measured at only one time, 19% of the sample would have scored above the cutoff versus 39% scoring above the cutoff when measured at all 4 periods. The findings provide evidence that depressive symptoms in older adults are variable and fluctuate over time. The significance of this research was the longitudinal evaluation of depressive symptoms in community-residing elders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article reviews an aspect of daily clinical practice which is of critical importance in virtually every clinical consultation, but which is seldom formally considered. Non-clinical influences on clinical decision-making profoundly affect medical decisions. These influences include patient-related factors such as socioeconomic status, quality of life and patient's expectations and wishes, physician-related factors such as personal characteristics and interaction with their professional community, and features of clinical practice such as private versus public practice as well as local management policies. This review brings together the different strands of knowledge concerning non-clinical influences on clinical decision-making. This aspect of decision-making may be the biggest obstacle to the reality of practising evidence-based medicine. It needs to be understood in order to develop clinical strategies that will facilitate the practice of evidence-based medicine.
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 05/2010; 103(5):178-87. DOI:10.1258/jrsm.2010.100104 · 2.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In developed countries, primary care physicians manage most patients with depression. Relatively few studies allow a comprehensive assessment of the decisions these doctors make in these cases and the factors associated with these decisions. We studied how general practitioners (GPs) manage the acute phase of a new episode of non-comorbid major depression (MD) and the factors associated with their decisions.
In this cross-sectional telephone survey, professional investigators interviewed an existing panel of randomly selected GPs (1249/1431, response rate: 87.3%). We used case-vignettes about new MD episodes in 8 versions differing by patient gender and socioeconomic status (blue/white collar) and disease intensity (mild/severe). GPs were randomized to receive one of these 8 versions. Overall, 82.6% chose pharmacotherapy; among them GPs chose either an antidepressant (79.8%) or an anxiolytic/hypnotic alone (18.5%). They rarely recommended referral for psychotherapy alone, regardless of severity, but 38.2% chose it in combination with pharmacotherapy. Antidepressant prescription was associated with severity of depression (OR = 1.74; 95%CI = 1.33-2.27), patient gender (female, OR = 0.75; 95%CI = 0.58-0.98), GP personal characteristics (e.g. history of antidepressant treatment: OR = 2.31; 95%CI = 1.41-3.81) and GP belief that antidepressants are overprescribed in France (OR = 0.63; 95%CI = 0.48-0.82). The combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy was associated with severity of depression (OR = 1.82; 95%CI = 1.31-2.52), patient's white-collar status (OR = 1.58; 95%CI = 1.14-2.18), and GPs' dissatisfaction with cooperation with mental health specialists (OR = 0.63; 95%CI = 0.45-0.89). These choices were not associated with either GPs' professional characteristics or psychiatrist density in the GP's practice areas.
GPs' choices for treating severe MD complied with clinical guidelines better than those for mild MD; GPs rarely recommended psychotherapy alone but rather as a complement to pharmacotherapy. Their decisions were mainly influenced by personal life experience and attitudes regarding treatment more than by professional characteristics. These results call into question the methods and content of continuing medical education in France about MD management.
PLoS ONE 12/2012; 7(12):e52429. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0052429 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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