Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 450–460

Underdiagnosis of depression in HIV

Who are we missing?


  • Steven M. Asch
    • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
    • UCLA Department of Medicine
    • RAND
  • Amy M. Kilbourne
    • Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion and VA PittsburghUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
    • Departments of Medicine and PsychiatryUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Allen L. Gifford
    • VA San Diego Healthcare SystemUniversity of California San Diego
  • M. Audrey Burnam
    • RAND
  • Barbara Turner
    • Section of General Internal MedicineUniversity of Pennsylvania
  • Martin F. Shapiro
    • UCLA Department of Medicine
    • RAND
  • Samuel A. Bozzette
    • RAND
    • VA San Diego Healthcare SystemUniversity of California San Diego
    • Department of MedicineUniversity of California San Diego
  • the HCSUS Consortium
Original Articles

DOI: 10.1046/j.1525-1497.2003.20938.x

Cite this article as:
Asch, S.M., Kilbourne, A.M., Gifford, A.L. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2003) 18: 450. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.2003.20938.x


OBJECTIVE: To determine the sociodemographic and service delivery correlates of depression underdiagnosis in HIV.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.

PATIENTS/PARTICIPANTS: National probability sample of HIV-infected persons in care in the contiguous United States who have available medical record data.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We interviewed patients using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) survey from the Mental Health Supplement. Patients also provided information regarding demographics, socioeconomic status, and HIV disease severity. We extracted patient medical record data between July 1995 and December 1997, and we defined depression underdiagnosis as a diagnosis of major depressive disorder based on the CIDI and no recorded depression diagnosis by their principal health care provider in their medical records between July 1995 and December 1997. Of the 1,140 HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study patients with medical record data who completed the CIDI, 448 (37%) had CIDI-defined major depression, and of these, 203 (45%) did not have a diagnosis of depression documented in their medical record. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that patients who had less than a high school education (P<.05) were less likely to have their depression documented in the medical record compared to those with at least a college education. Patients with Medicare insurance coverage compared to those with private health insurance (P<.01) and those with ≥3 outpatient visits (P<.05) compared to <3 visits were less likely to have their depression diagnosis missed by providers.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that providers should be more attentive to diagnosing comorbid depression in HIV-infected patients.

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© Society of General Internal Medicine 2003