[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Article
May 1990

Depression in Medical Outpatients: Underrecognition and Misdiagnosis

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine (Dr Pérez-Stable), and the Department of Psychiatry, San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center (Drs Miranda and Muñoz), University of California, San Francisco, and the School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley (Dr Ying).

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(5):1083-1088. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390170113024
Abstract

• Depression is a common problem in medical outpatients, yet primary care physicians recognize the disorder in only about half of their depressed patients. We compared physician recognition of depression (defined by chart notation or prescription of anti-depressants) with diagnoses generated by the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS) in 265 medical outpatients. Using DIS criteria, diagnoses of major depression in the past year or dysthymia (chronic minor depression) were made in 70 patients. Physicians recognized as depressed only 25(35.7%) of the 70 DIS-depressed patients. However, 36 patients who were not depressed according to DIS were "recognized" as depressed by physicians. Patients misdiagnosed as depressed by physicians were older, less educated, had more outpatient visits, and were prescribed more medications. Receiver operating characteristic curves of two self-report depression scales suggest that these scales may assist physicians in recognizing depressed outpatients. We conclude that physicians underrecognize and misdiagnose depression in medical outpatients.

(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:1083-1088)

×