Concern over depression questionnaire

  • Date: 07 February 2011

A questionnaire used by GPs in England to determine the severity of depression in patients could pose a threat to the clinical relationship according to a study in this month’s British Journal of General Practice (BJGP).

The study found that some GPs felt the questionnaire posed an intrusion into often very sensitive consultations and also made it difficult for the GPs to deliver individualised patient care.

Researchers interviewed GPs in 38 practices across three areas asking about their experience of the severity indicators, what they aimed to achieve, whether the questionnaire affected their interaction with the patient (either positively or negatively) and whether they used the questionnaires at the outset of treatment as specified in the contract.

Lead Researcher, Dr Geraldine Leydon from University of Southampton Primary Medical Care Department, said of their findings: "Some GPs have voiced concern that the use of severity questionnaire scores may diminish patient-doctor rapport and holism. GPs are apparently wary of using questionnaire scores to determine severity and decide on treatment."

RCGP Chair, Dr Clare Gerada, said: "The questionnaire is valid – but as with any tool it should be used appropriately and proportionately."

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