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A Record-Based Analysis of 803 Patients Treated for Depression in Psychiatric Care. [CME]

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62:701-706

Background: New antidepressants emerged and became widely used during the 1990s. The present study investigated quality-of-care problems in the treatment of depression in a current psychiatric setting.

Method: We investigated the treatment received for depression by all 803 inpatients or outpatients with a clinical diagnosis of ICD-10 depressive episode or recurrent depressive disorder in 1996 in the Peijas Medical Care District, which provides psychiatric services for citizens of Vantaa, a city in southern Finland.

Results: Most patients (84%) in the sample were found to have received antidepressants, generally in adequate, albeit low, doses. Inadequate antidepressant treatment was common only with tricyclic antidepressants. Most patients received a single antidepressant for extended periods; only 22% had 2 or more antidepressant trials. During the treatment period, disability pension was granted to 19% of those not already pensioned, two thirds (67%) of whom had received only 1 antidepressant trial prior to being granted a pension.

Conclusion: The present study supports the emerging perception of improved quality of pharmacotherapy in psychiatric settings, with the exception of treatment with tricyclic antidepressants. Problems of quality of care now appear to be related to the suboptimal intensity and monitoring of the treatment provided, which may eventually result in considerable costs to society due to permanent disability.