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Saturday 22nd October 2016

GPs 'fail' to spot depression

28th July 2009

GPs are failing to spot depression in their patients, according to a review of research by the University of Leicester. 


The review looked at studies of 50,000 patients in 41 trials and found that many GPs  "missed or wrongly identified" patients who were depressed.

The review, which was published in The Lancet, said that in the first consultation, a depressed patient was more likely to be wrongly diagnosed than accurately identified.

GPs were found to spot only around 50% of people who were clinically depressed. The average GP in a city surgery saw around 100 cases of depression in two days, of which 20 patients would be truly depressed.

The review found that a GP would accurately diagnose around 10 cases, but would miss the signs in another 10 cases.

The doctor would then misdiagnose 15 more people as being depressed and accurately treat the other 65.

In country practices, depression was misjudged at a rate of three incorrect diagnoses to every correct one.

The researchers said that short appointment times could be to blame and suggested that if GPs had the chance to see patients over two appointments the accuracy of the diagnosis could increase to 90%.

They added: "Our results should not be interpreted as a criticism of GPs for failing to diagnose depression but rather a call for better understanding of the problems that non-specialists face."


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