Evidence of prescription of antidepressants for non-psychiatric conditions in primary care: An analysis of guidelines and systematic reviews

BMC Family Practice (Impact Factor: 1.67). 05/2013; 14(1):55. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2296-14-55
Source: PubMed


Antidepressants (ADs) are commonly prescribed in primary care and are mostly indicated for depression. According to the literature, they are now more frequently prescribed for health conditions other than psychiatric ones. Due to their many indications in a wide range of medical fields, assessing the appropriateness of AD prescription seems to be a challenge for GPs. The aim of this study was to review evidence from guidelines for antidepressant prescription for non-psychiatric conditions in Primary Care (PC) settings.

Data were retrieved from French, English and US guideline databases. Guidelines or reviews were eligible if keywords regarding 44 non-psychiatric conditions related to GPs’ prescription of ADs were encountered. After excluding psychiatric and non-primary care conditions, the guidelines were checked for keywords related to AD use. The latest updated version of the guidelines was kept. Recent data was searched in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and in PubMed for updated reviews and randomized control trials (RCTs).

Seventy-eight documents were retrieved and were used to assess the level of evidence of a potential benefit to prescribing an AD. For 15 conditions, there was a consensus that prescribing an AD was beneficial. For 5 others, ADs were seen as potentially beneficial. No proof of benefit was found for 15 conditions and proof of no benefit was found for the last 9. There were higher levels of evidence for pain conditions, (neuropathic pain, diabetic painful neuropathy, central neuropathic pain, migraine, tension-type headaches, and fibromyalgia) incontinence and irritable bowel syndrome. There were difficulties in summarizing the data, due to a lack of information on the level of evidence, and due to variations in efficacy between and among the various classes of ADs.

Prescription of ADs was found to be beneficial for many non-psychiatric health conditions regularly encountered in PC settings. On the whole, the guidelines were heterogeneous, seemingly due to a lack of trials assessing the role of ADs in treatment strategies.

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    • "Interpretation of these findings can be difficult especially if they are based upon prescribing data and the reason for prescription is difficult to ascertain. In these cases it is not clear whether the antidepressant use is actually for another condition regularly encountered in primary care for which antidepressants are an effective treatment such as pain conditions, incontinence and irritable bowel syndrome (Mercier et al., 2013). The current study overcomes this limitation as the antidepressant use reported here is in response to questions about what participants report using to help them with their depressive symptoms. "
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    ABSTRACT: Antidepressants are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in primary care. The rise in use is mostly due to an increasing number of long-term users of antidepressants (LTU AD). Little is known about the factors driving increased long-term use. We examined the socio-demographic, clinical factors and health service use characteristics associated with LTU AD to extend our understanding of the factors that may be driving the increase in antidepressant use. Cross-sectional analysis of 789 participants with probable depression (CES-D≥16) recruited from 30 randomly selected Australian general practices to take part in a ten-year cohort study about depression were surveyed about their antidepressant use. 165 (21.0%) participants reported <2 years of antidepressant use and 145 (18.4%) reported ≥2 years of antidepressant use. After adjusting for depression severity, LTU AD was associated with: single (OR 1.56, 95%CI 1.05-2.32) or recurrent episode of depression (3.44, 2.06-5.74); using SSRIs (3.85, 2.03-7.33), sedatives (2.04, 1.29-3.22), or antipsychotics (4.51, 1.67-12.17); functional limitations due to long-term illness (2.81, 1.55-5.08), poor/fair self-rated health (1.57, 1.14-2.15), inability to work (2.49, 1.37-4.53), benefits as main source of income (2.15, 1.33-3.49), GP visits longer than 20min (1.79, 1.17-2.73); rating GP visits as moderately to extremely helpful (2.71, 1.79-4.11), and more self-help practices (1.16, 1.09-1.23). All measures were self-report. Sample may not be representative of culturally different or adolescent populations. Cross-sectional design raises possibility of "confounding by indication". Long-term antidepressant use is relatively common in primary care. It occurs within the context of complex mental, physical and social morbidities. Whilst most long-term use is associated with a history of recurrent depression there remains a significant opportunity for treatment re-evaluation and timely discontinuation. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Affective Disorders
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    • "The GPs decided to prescribe ADs for chronic non-psychiatric conditions such as chronic complaints, pain, or sleep-related problems. Many of these non-psychiatric conditions (pain, migraine, fibromyalgia migraine, and premature ejaculation) met the criteria for scientific evidence for the prescription of ADs [15,25-28]. This level of evidence was lacking for some other conditions that influenced GPs, e.g. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The frequency of antidepressant (ADs) prescription is high, with general practitioners (GPs) responsible for about 80% of the prescriptions. Some studies considered prescriptions meet DSM criteria, while others stress inadequate use. The importance of biological and psychosocial determinants of GP prescription behaviour remains little explored. We aimed to describe the importance of these biological and psychosocial determinants and their weight in the daily practice of GPs’. Methods During a week chosen at random, 28 GPs collected the AD prescriptions made within the previous six months, regardless of the reason for the patient contact. Bio psychosocial and AD treatment characteristics were recorded for all patients. In a random sample of 50 patients, patient characteristics were assessed via a structured face-to-face interview with the GP. Results The frequency of AD prescription was 8.90% [3.94 -17.02]. The GPs initiated 65.6% [60.1-70.8] of the prescriptions. The rate of AD prescription for non-psychiatric conditions was 18%. Patients had from 1 to 9 conditions, showing a high level of multi-morbidity. There was a strong influence of past medical history and contextual problems, such as work related problems. Conclusion AD prescription is related to complex contextual situations and multi-morbid patients. GPs use a bio psycho social approach, rather than a purely biological assessment. Awareness of these influences could improve prescription by GPs.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · BioPsychoSocial Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: To describe antidepressant (AD) use in the Emilia-Romagna Region (Italy) and to evaluate adherence to treatment with selective serotonin receptor inhibitors or selective noradrenaline receptor inhibitors (SSRI-SNRI). Reimbursed prescriptions of AD were retrieved from the Emilia-Romagna Regional Health Authority Database. The overall AD consumption from the 2006-2011 period was expressed in terms of prevalence and amount of use. Adherence to treatment was assessed in a cohort of patients who received SSRI-SNRI, and was followed throughout a 6-month period from the start of each treatment episode. Adherence was considered according to three parameters: duration of treatment ≥ 120 days, prescription coverage ≥ 80 %, and gaps between prescriptions < 3 months. Determinants of non-adherent regimen, including sociodemographic and clinical variables, were identified by multivariate logistic regression by calculating adjusted Odds Ratio (adjOR) and the relevant 95 % confidence interval (95CI). From 2006 to 2011, the prevalence of use of AD increased by 5 % (from 86 to 90 per 1,000 inhabitants) and the amount of antidepressant consumption increased by 20 % (from 43 to 51 defined daily dose per thousand inhabitants per day [DDD/TID]), with a 14 % rise in the intensity of drug use (from 182 to 208 DDD per patient). Out of 347,615 SSRI-SNRI treatment episodes, only 23.8 % were adherent. Comorbidity (adjOR:0.69; 95CI:0.67-0.72) and recurrence of AD treatment in the previous year (0.91; 0.89-0.92) were associated with better adherence. Moreover, patients treated with duloxetine (0.58; 0.55-0.60), escitalopram (0.64; 0.62-0.66) or sertraline (0.65; 0.64-0.67) showed better adherence in comparison with paroxetine. Clinical variables resulting in improved adherence seem to identify patients with more severe disorders and who actually need a pharmacological approach, whereas differences in adherence among ADs could in part be caused by channeling and sponsorship bias. Initiatives addressed at improving cooperation between primary care and psychiatrists could decrease AD prescription for cases of sub-threshold or mild depression that easily drop out because of rapid symptom relief or side effects.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
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