BMC family practice 2017 12 0818(1) 100 doi 10.1186/s12875-017-0670-9
Depression is a common comorbidity in patients with chronic heart failure (HF) and linked to a wider range of symptoms which, in turn, are linked to a decreased health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Treatment of depression might improve HRQOL but detecting depression is difficult due to the symptom overlap between HF and depression. Therefore, clinical guidelines recommend to routinely screen for depression in HF patients. No studies have so far investigated the treatment after getting aware of a depressive symptomatology and its correlation with HRQOL in primary care HF patients. Therefore, we examined the factors linked to depression treatment and those linked to HRQOL in HF patients. We hypothesized that GPs’ awareness of depressive symptomatology was associated with depression treatment and HRQOL in HF patients.
For this observational study, HF patients were recruited in primary care practices and filled out a questionnaire including PHQ-9 and HADS. A total of 574 patients screened positive for depressive symptomatology. Their GPs were interviewed by phone regarding the patients’ comorbidities and potential depression treatment. Descriptive and regression analysis were performed.
GPs reported various types of depression treatments (including dialogue/counselling by the GP him/herself in 31.8% of the patients). The reported rates differed considerably between GP-reported initiated treatment and patient-reported utilised treatment regarding psychotherapy (16.4% vs. 9.5%) and pharmacotherapy (61.2% vs. 30.3%). The GPs’ awareness of depressive symptomatology was significantly associated with the likelihood of receiving pharmacotherapy (OR 2.8; p < 0.001) but not psychotherapy. The patient's HRQOL was not significantly associated with the GPs' awareness of depression. CONCLUSION
GPs should be aware of the gap between GP-initiated and patient-utilised depression treatments in patients with chronic HF, which might lead to an undersupply of depression treatment. It remains to be investigated why GPs’ awareness of depressive symptomatology is not linked to patients’ HRQOL. We hypothesize that GPs are aware of cases with reduced HRQOL (which improves under depression treatment) and unaware of cases whose depression do not significantly impair HRQOL, resulting in comparable levels of HRQOL in both groups. This hypothesis needs to be further investigated.