USPSTF urges primary care doctors to screen all adults for depression

PHILADELPHIA -- (May 21, 2002) The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) today recommended that doctors screen all adult patients for depression. At the same time, the task force noted that doctors should have systems in place to support accurate diagnosis, effective treatment and follow-up of depressed patients. The new recommendations and a background article with a systematic review of the evidence are published in the May 21, 2002, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

These recommendations are a change from the 1996 USPSTF recommendations that found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against regular formal screening for depression. Since then, the task force reviewed new evidence from randomized trials that tested various screening tools and types of interventions for depression.

Five percent to nine percent of adult patients in primary care settings suffer from depression, the task force found, and up to 50 percent of these cases go undetected and therefore, untreated. Those at increased risk for depression include women, those with a family history of depression, the unemployed, and those with chronic disease. Depression increases health care utilization and costs $17 billion in lost workdays each year. But depression can be treated with counseling, medications or both.

The task force does not recommend one screening tool over another, did not find sufficient evidence to recommend for or against routine screening of children or adolescents for depression, and found no evidence on how frequently depression screening should occur.


Contact: Susan Anderson
American College of Physicians

Page: 1

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