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Less than 50 percent see doctor to treat depression: study

Less than half of men and women in Ontario who may be suffering from depression see a doctor to treat their condition, according to a new study by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

Toronto, September 30, 2009

POWER Study Depression chapter

Less than half of men and women in Ontario who may be suffering from depression see a doctor to treat their condition, according to a new study by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). In addition, one third of men and women discharged from hospital for severe depression did not see their doctor for a follow-up visit within 30 days of their discharge.

The findings suggest the need for a comprehensive care model to help men and women better manage depression. “While there is a lot that is known about how to improve depression, we need to apply this to our work with patients if we want to improve the diagnosis and management of depression,” commented Dr. Arlene Bierman, a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and principal investigator of the study Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report (POWER). “This involves better co-ordination among primary care and mental health-care professionals in both community and hospital settings,” added Dr. Bierman, a researcher at ICES.

Nearly half a million Ontarians, aged 15 and older, suffer from depression. This condition can lead to reduced productivity, increased disability claims, and increased use of health care services.

“Research shows that patients cared for using a collaborative model are more likely to see improvement in symptoms, are able to better manage their depression and avoid multiple visits for emergency care,” said Dr. Elizabeth Lin, lead author of the chapter and a research scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

The findings are detailed in the report titled Depression — the third to be released this year as part of the POWER study. The study is the first in Ontario to provide a comprehensive overview of women’s health in relation to gender, income, education, ethnicity and geography. The POWER Study is a partnership between St. Michael’s Hospital and ICES. The POWER Study was funded by Echo: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

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