The study aimed to examine general practitioner (GP) views about the appropriate management of a patient with a depressive disorder. A questionnaire based around a patient case history was sent to 188 GPs from 11 primary care groups nationally.
The response rate was 62%. At first presentation, a third of GPs offered ‘watchful waiting’ and a third prescribed medication. If the patient's condition deteriorated, nearly all GPs initiated therapeutic doses of antidepressant medication immediately. If the patient failed to respond, 60% of GPs commenced second-line antidepressant treatment. Following recovery, a quarter of GPs would continue antidepressant treatment for 4 months or more.
GPs' interventions in the management of depression concur with expert national guidelines. There is scope for strengthening the effectiveness of pharmacological intervention in the later stages of treatment.
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