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13-02-2011 | General practice | Article

GPs wary of depression scores


Br J Gen Pract 2011; 61: 117–123

GPs have voiced concerns that using questionnaires to determine depression severity, as required under the Quality and Outcomes Framework, compromises their relationships with patients and ability to use clinical judgement.

Researchers interviewed 34 GPs from a total of 38 practices in Southampton, Liverpool and Norfolk about their experience of and views on the use of depression indicators in practice.

The responses suggested that GPs feel the questionnaires can be intrusive and undermine rapport building. In particular, they find it difficult to know when to introduce the questionnaire and do not view it as an integrated part of assessment and diagnosis.

Furthermore, GPs expressed fears that questionnaires do not capture the whole history and may lead to a reliance on scores instead of using professional intuition and judgement.

Lead researcher Dr Geraldine Leydon from the University of Southampton 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."

Royal College of GPs Chair, Dr Clare Gerada, commented: "The questionnaire is valid - but as with any tool it should be used appropriately and proportionately."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Caroline Price