Monday, July 9, 2018

Rates of Routine Depression Screening on Rise but Still Low

Rates of routine depression screening among U.S. adults have increased since 2009 but remain low overall, reports a study published today in Psychiatric Services in Advance. In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) first recommended that routine depression screening be carried out in any clinical practice that has adequate depression care support in place.

The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine. Its members are appointed by the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the lead federal agency charged with improving the safety and quality of the U.S. health care system.

Sandipan Bhattacharjee, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona and colleagues used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to assess screening rates among adults 18 and older without a depression diagnosis who made an outpatient visit to a health care professional other than a psychiatrist. Of the 298,896 records of doctor visits between 2005 and 2015 that met the researchers’ criteria, 3,986 visits (1.4%) included a depression screening.

During the study period, screening rates fell from about 1.5 percent in 2005 to a low of .65 percent in 2008 and then steadily rose from 2009 to a high of 3 percent in 2015.

In addition to the 2009 USPSTF recommendation, Bhattacharjee and colleagues noted that the rise in screening rates could have been influenced by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which mandated depression screening and other preventive care be offered at no cost. They also noted that their study period ended before USPSTF updated its recommendation in 2016 to reflect that routine depression screening should occur even in clinical practices without on-site mental health services. 

“This study observed that more time spent by the patient in the physician’s office led to higher screening rates,” wrote the researchers. “Since increasing the length of time of the actual visit to the physician may be difficult, it is recommended that other health care providers in these settings be trained to provide screening.”

To read more on this topic, see the Psychiatric News article “New Primary Care Guidelines Recommend Routine Screening for Depression in Adolescents.”

(Image: Alexander Raths/shutterstock)


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.