Objective: To examine the relation between primary care clinicians' attitudes, beliefs, and training and their perceptions of the importance and frequency of depression.
Design: A 56-item questionnaire was mailed to 226 clinicians in the Ambulatory Sentinel Practice Network Inc (ASPN), a primary care research network.
Setting: The ASPN, consisting of 69 primary care practices in the United States and Canada, cares for approximately 350,000 patients.
Main outcome measure: The degree to which clinician training in depression and clinician attitudes and beliefs about treating depression predict their perceptions of the importance of depression in their primary care practices.
Results: Results of path analysis indicate that clinician training in depression, beliefs about the burden and discomfort associated with diagnosing and treating depression, perceptions of their patients' discomfort, and self-efficacy in diagnosing and treating depression are all significantly related to clinician perceptions of whether depression was an important and frequent primary care problem. Further analysis indicates that actual prevalence of depression accounted for little variability in clinicians' beliefs and attitudes about depression.
Conclusions: What clinicians think their patients feel about issues on depression and how they view their own abilities may profoundly influence the degree to which they recognize depression in primary care. Understanding these factors may help explain and subsequently decrease clinician variability in the recognition of depression in primary care.