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Depression chart threatens doctor-patient rapport

GPs report that the depression questionnaire is too intrusive

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 03 February 2011

GPs say the questionnaire used to determine depression in patients is intrusive and a threat to the doctor-patient relationship.

These concerns have come to light in a study published in the Royal College of General Practitioners’ publication the British Journal of General Practice.

In this month’s BJGP a survey of doctors found that some GPs felt the questionnaire used to determine the severity of depression in patients, posed an ‘intrusion into often very sensitive consultations’ and also made it difficult for GPs to deliver individualised patient care.

Researchers interviewed 38 practices across three areas: Southampton; Liverpool and Norfolk. Questions answered by the GPs included: their experience of the severity indicators; what they aimed to achieve; whether the questionnaire affected their interaction with the patient either positively or negatively; and whether they used the questionnaires at the outset of treatment, as specified in the contract.

Lead Researcher, Dr Geraldine Leydon from University of Southampton Primary Medical Care Department, said: “Some GPs have voiced concern that the use of severity questionnaire scores may diminish patient-doctor rapport and holism. GPs are apparently wary of using questionnaire scores to determine severity and decide on treatment.”

RCGP Chair, Dr Clare Gerada, said: “The questionnaire is valid – but as with any tool it should be used appropriately and proportionately.”

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