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Anxiety and depression in general practice outpatients: the long-term change process

Authors Shimada F, Ohira Y, Hirota Y, Ikegami A, Kondo T, Shikino K, Suzuki S, Noda K, Uehara T, Ikusaka M

Received 12 December 2016

Accepted for publication 10 June 2017

Published 9 February 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 55—63


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Fumio Shimada, Yoshiyuki Ohira, Yusuke Hirota, Akiko Ikegami, Takeshi Kondo, Kiyoshi Shikino, Shingo Suzuki, Kazutaka Noda, Takanori Uehara, Masatomi Ikusaka

Department of General Medicine, Chiba University Hospital, Chiba, Japan

Background and objectives: Patients who come for a consultation at a general practice clinic as outpatients often suffer from background anxiety and depression. The psychological state of such patients can alleviate naturally; however, there are cases when these symptoms persist. This study investigated the realities and factors behind anxiety/depression becoming prolonged.
Methods: Participants were 678 adult patients, who came to Department of General Medicine at Chiba University Hospital within a 1-year period starting from April 2012 and who completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) during their initial consultation. Participants whose Anxiety or Depression scores in the HADS, or both, were 8 points or higher were defined as being within the anxiety/depression group, with all other participants making up the control group. A telephone interview was also conducted with participants. Furthermore, age, sex, the period from the onset of symptoms to the initial consultation at our department, the period from the initial department consultation to the telephone survey, and the existence of mental illness at the final department diagnosis were investigated.
Results: A total of 121 patients (17.8% response rate) agreed to the phone survey. The HADS score during the phone survey showed that the anxiety/depression group had a significantly higher score than the control group. The HADS scores obtained between the initial consultation and telephone survey showed a positive correlation. Logistic regression analysis extracted “age” and the “continuation of the symptoms during the initial consultation” as factors that prolonged anxiety/depression.
Conclusion: Anxiety and depression in general practice outpatients have the possibility of becoming prolonged for an extended period of time. Being aged 65 years or over and showing a continuation of symptoms past the initial consultation are the strongest factors associated with these prolonged conditions. When patients with anxiety and depression exhibit these risk factors, they should be further evaluated for treatment.

Keywords: anxiety, depression, outpatients, general practice

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