Health service use among persons with self-reported depression: a longitudinal analysis of 7,164 women

Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2012 Jun;26(3):181-91. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2011.10.002. Epub 2012 Jan 12.


Objective: Depression is a common mental disorder and a leading contributor to the global burden of disease. In Australia, depression is reportedly the leading cause of morbidity for young women. In addition to conventional treatments, there is also some evidence that there is common use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among people with depressive symptoms. However, there has been little research focus upon broad health care and practitioner use (including consumption of both conventional and CAM practitioners as well as self-prescribed care) among young adults with depression. This article aims specifically to address this knowledge gap by providing the first longitudinal analysis of the use of health service among women with self-reported depression.

Methods: Data from a longitudinal cohort study (Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health) conducted over a 3-year period on 7,164 young Australian women were analyzed. Information on health status, health service use, and self-prescribed treatments was obtained from two questionnaires mailed to study participants in 2003 and 2006.

Results: The study identified that only a small proportion of the women had sought professional assistance for their self-reported depression. It also shows that many women who reported depression used CAM alongside or as a complement to conventional health care services. In particular, young women who did not seek help for their depression were more likely to self-prescribe CAM than were women without depression.

Conclusion: The frequent use of a range of conventional providers and practitioner-based CAM and self-prescribed CAM among women with self-reported depression warrants further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult