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Attitudes to depression and its treatment in primary care

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 11 June 2007

Undertreatment of depression in primary care is common. Efforts to address this tend to overlook the role of patient attitudes. Our aim was to validate and describe responses to a questionnaire about attitudes to depression and its treatment in a sample with experience of moderate and severe depressive episodes.


Cross-sectional survey of 866 individuals with a confirmed history of an ICD-10 depressive episode in the 12 months preceding interview, recruited from 7271 consecutive general practitioner (GP) attendees in 36 general practices in England and Wales. Attitudes to and beliefs about depression were assessed using a 19-item self-report questionnaire.


Factor analysis resulted in a three-factor solution: factor 1, depression as a disabling, permanent state; factor 2, depression as a medical condition responsive to support; and factor 3, antidepressants are addictive and ineffective. Participants who received and adhered to antidepressant medication and disclosed their depression to family and friends had significantly lower scores on factors 1 and 3 but higher scores on factor 2.


People with moderate or severe depressive episodes have subtle and divergent views about this condition, its outcome, and appropriate help. Such beliefs should be considered in primary care as they may significantly impact on help seeking and adherence to treatment.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Professor Scott Weich, Health Sciences Research Institute, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, CoventryCV4 7AL, UK. (Email:
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