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The impact of causal attributions on diagnosis and successful referral of depressed patients in primary care

, : The impact of causal attributions on diagnosis and successful referral of depressed patients in primary care. Social Science & Medicine 73(12): 1733-1740

Despite growing concerns of over-treatment, the under-diagnosis and undertreatment of major depressive disorders is still prevalent. Causal attributions are thought to be involved in help seeking behavior, time to diagnosis and the chance for successful referral. Yet, little is known about the extent to which these processes are influenced by causal attributions. 12 patients, involved in the nationwide second Dutch National Survey of General Practice (), with a current DSM-IV diagnosis of depression, severe depression or with a depression lasting over six months, completed a causal attributions inventory. Demographic and clinical data from the survey, and causal attribution scores were used as independent variables in association with getting a diagnosis of depression from the general practitioner, or being in treatment by a mental health care provider for more than 3 sessions. Causal attributions related to intrapsychic fears were significantly associated with getting a diagnosis of depression and successful referral. Causal attributions related to childhood were also positively associated with successful referral. In association models derived from all the demographic and clinical data available in the survey, causal attributions substantially contributed to the explained variance, 55% and 39% respectively. The findings suggest causal attributions have a statistically significant impact on time to diagnosis and the chance of successful referral. Using the Causal Attribution Inventory with high-risk patients in primary care might enhance the chance of detection and successful referral of depressed patients.Schellevis, F.G., Westert, G.P., & De Bakker, D.H. (25). [The actual role of general practice in the dutch health-care system. of the second dutch national survey of general practice.].Medizinische Klinik (Munich),1, 656-661.The most frequently reported causal attributions in major depressive disorders were related to intrapsychic fears and childhood difficulties. The likelihood of receiving a diagnosis of major depressive disorder is associated with patients making intrapsychic causal attributions. Causal attributions related to childhood difficulties significantly contribute to the chance of successful referral for major depressive disorders..


PMID: 22036103

DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.09.027

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