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Detailed population-based survey information on the relationship between the severity of common mental disorders (CMDs) and treatment for mental health problems is heavily based on North American research. The aim of this study was to replicate and expand existing knowledge by studying CMD severity and its association with treatment contact and treatment intensity in The Netherlands.
Data were obtained from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2 (NEMESIS-2), a nationally representative face-to-face survey of the general population aged 18–64 years (n = 6646, response rate = 65.1%). DSM-IV diagnoses and disorder severity were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Version 3.0 (CIDI 3.0). Treatment contact refers to at least one contact for mental health problems made in the general medical care (GMC) or mental health care (MHC) sector. Four levels of treatment intensity were assessed, based on type and duration of therapy received.
Although CMD severity was related to treatment contact, only 39.0% of severe cases received MHC. At the same time, 40.3% of MHC users did not have a 12-month disorder. Increasing levels of treatment intensity ranged from 51.6% to 13.0% in GMC and from 81.4% to 51.1% in MHC. CMD severity was related to treatment intensity in MHC but not in GMC. Sociodemographic characteristics were not significantly related to having experienced the highest level of treatment intensity in MHC.
Mental health treatment in the GMC sector should be improved, especially when policy is aimed at increasing the role of primary care in the management of mental health problems.
Limited information exists on the relationship between specific chronic somatic conditions and care for co-morbid depression in primary care settings. Therefore, the present prospective, general practice-based study examined this relationship.
Longitudinal data on morbidity, prescribing and referrals concerning 991 patients newly diagnosed with depression by their general practitioner (GP) were analysed. The influence of a broad range of 13 specific chronic somatic conditions on the initiation of any depression care, as well as the prescription of continuous antidepressant therapy for 180 days, was examined. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was used to control for history of depression, psychiatric co-morbidity, sociodemographics and interpractice variation.
Multilevel analysis showed that patients with pre-existing ischaemic heart disease (72.1%) or cardiac arrhythmia (59.3%) were significantly less likely to have any depression care being initiated by their GP than patients without chronic somatic morbidity (88.0%). No other specific condition had a significant influence on GP initiation of any care for depression. Among the patients being prescribed antidepressant treatment by their GP, none of the conditions was significantly associated with being prescribed continuous treatment for 180 days.
Our study indicates that patients with ischaemic heart disease or cardiac arrhythmia have a lower likelihood of GP initiation of any care for depression after being newly diagnosed with depression by their GP. This finding points to the importance of developing interventions aimed at supporting GPs in the adequate management of co-morbid depression in heart disease patients to reduce the negative effects of this co-morbidity.
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