European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 397–403

Who is diagnosed as suffering from depression in the German statutory health care system? An analysis of health insurance data

Authors

    • Department for Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health System Research, OE 5410Hannover Medical School
  • Thomas G. Grobe
    • Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health System Research
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz
    • Department for Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health System Research, OE 5410Hannover Medical School
Psychiatric Epidemiology

DOI: 10.1007/s10654-007-9128-z

Cite this article as:
Bramesfeld, A., Grobe, T.G. & Schwartz, F.W. Eur J Epidemiol (2007) 22: 397. doi:10.1007/s10654-007-9128-z

Abstract

Background

Depressive disease is becoming increasingly relevant in industrialised countries. For public health policy and planning it is important to know about the epidemiology of this disease as well as the extent to which this epidemiology impacts on health service provision.

Method

Analysis of data from a major German statutory health insurance company: Longitudinal micro-level claims data containing information about diagnoses obtained from inpatient and outpatient sources as well as information collected from prescriptions issued for antidepressants. Data was analysed with regard to the differences in drug utilisation and the risk of being diagnosed with depression according to age, sex, marital status and area of residence.

Results

Results correspond significantly with the findings of population surveys on depression epidemiology. They also confirm the finding of a lower prevalence of depression in East Germany compared to West Germany. However, the claims data revealed an unexpectedly high prevalence of depression diagnosis in older age groups.

Conclusion

Statutory health insurance data seems to be a reliable source of epidemiological information that is both easily accessible and longitudinally available, and thus provides important information that is needed for health policy and service planning.

With regard to service provision it should be considered that depression in old age is a greater problem than is suggested by most epidemiological surveys.

Keywords

DepressionEpidemiologyHealth Insurance DataHealth Service UseOutpatient Care

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007