Original Paper

Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 331-341

Depression Diagnosis and Antidepressant Treatment among Depressed VA Primary Care Patients

  • Chuan-Fen LiuAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, VA Puget Sound Health Care SystemDepartment of Health Services, University of Washington Email author 
  • , Duncan G. CampbellAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, VA Puget Sound Health Care SystemDepartment of Health Services, University of Washington
  • , Edmund F. ChaneyAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, VA Puget Sound Health Care SystemDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington
  • , Yu-Fang LiAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, VA Puget Sound Health Care SystemDepartment of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington
  • , Mary McDonellAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, VA Puget Sound Health Care System
  • , Stephan D. FihnAffiliated withDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, VA Puget Sound Health Care SystemDepartment of Health Services, University of WashingtonDepartment of Medicine, University of Washington

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Abstract

This study examined the extent to which 3559 VA primary care patients with depression symptomatology received depression diagnoses and/or antidepressant prescriptions. Symptomatology was classified as mild (13%), moderate (42%) or severe (45%) based on SCL-20 scores. Diagnosis and treatment was related to depression severity and other patient characteristics. Overall, 44% were neither diagnosed nor treated. Only 22% of those neither diagnosed nor treated for depression received treatment for other psychopathology. Depression treatment performance measures dependent on diagnoses and antidepressant prescriptions from administrative databases exclude undiagnosed patients with significant, treatable, symptomatology.

Keywords

Primary care patients Veterans Depression Antidepressant treatment Depression diagnosis