Guideline concordance of treatment for depressive disorders in Canada

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2009 May;44(5):385-92. doi: 10.1007/s00127-008-0444-8. Epub 2008 Oct 22.


Background: Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health problems worldwide with considerable social and economic burdens. While practice guidelines exist, their adherence is inconsistent in clinical practice.

Objective: To provide up-to-date national estimates of the adequacy of treatment received by Canadians having suffered a major depressive disorder (MDD) and examine factors associated with this adequacy. To evaluate the impact of different definitions of guideline-concordant treatment on the results.

Subjects: Data were drawn from the Canadian Community Health Survey, cycle 1.2: Mental Health and Well-Being (CCHS 1.2), a nationally representative survey conducted in 2002 and targetting persons aged 15 years or older living in private dwellings. In order to calculate the prevalence of treatment adequacy, we used a sample of 1,563 individuals meeting the criteria for MDD in the 12 months preceding the survey. A subset of 831 subjects who reported having used health services for mental health purposes at least once during that time served to identify the factors associated with treatment adequacy.

Measurements: Four definitions of minimally adequate treatment were considered and covariates were selected according to a well-known behavioral model. The analyses consisted of prevalence estimates and logistic regression models.

Results: Among selected subjects, 55% received guideline-concordant treatment according to the Canadian guidelines. Inadequacy was more prevalent in rural settings, for less complex cases, and in the general medical sector. Depending on the definition, prevalence of guideline-concordant treatment ranged between 48 and 71%, and factors associated with guideline-concordant treatment were mainly need factors and sector of care.

Conclusions: A large proportion of people with a depressive disorder do not receive minimally adequate treatment. Improved access to and quality of treatment is required, especially in primary care settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Young Adult