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Currently only about half of the people who have major depressive disorder are detected during regular health care. Screening in high-risk groups might be a possible solution.
To evaluate the effectiveness of selective screening for major depressive disorder in three high-risk groups in primary care: people with mental health problems, people with unexplained somatic complaints and people who frequently attend their general practitioner.
Prospective cohort study among 2005 people in high-risk groups in three health centres in The Netherlands.
Of the 2005 people identified, 1687 were invited for screening and of these 780 participated. Screening disclosed 71 people with major depressive disorder: 36 (50.7%) already received treatment, 14 (19.7%) refused treatment and 4 individuals did not show up for an appointment. As a final result of the screening, 17 individuals (1% of 1687) started treatment for major depressive disorder.
Screening for depression in high-risk populations does not seem to be effective, mainly because of the low rates of treatment initiation, even if treatment is freely and easily accessible.
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