Management of general medical patients with symptoms of depression

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1989 May;11(3):201-7; discussion 216-21. doi: 10.1016/0163-8343(89)90042-x.


This article describes the management of depressive symptoms in a group of ambulatory patients in general medical care during a 1-year period. It also examines patient outcomes by types of management and aggressiveness of treatment. Subjects are 112 male patients longitudinally enrolled in a V.A. General Medical Clinic who screened positively on both the Zung Self-rating Depression Scale and the DSM-III criteria. Medical records were abstracted to obtain information on mental health management. During the follow-up year, 48% of the moderately depressed patients received some form of mental health management compared to 92% of the severely depressed patients. Of the treatment modes, only patients who had a mental health clinic visit and/or psychiatric consultation were significantly more improved than those not so treated--but only at 6 months (p = 0.09) and 9 months (p = 0.02). Actual treatment experience was then classified into three levels based on intensity, duration, and combinations of treatments. Of the three levels, only those patients in the moderately aggressively treated condition were significantly more improved at 3 months (p = 0.02) and at 6 months (p = 0.04) than those in the no-treatment condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Family Practice*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychotherapy
  • Referral and Consultation


  • Antidepressive Agents