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Unmet need for the treatment of depression in Atlantic Canada

TitleUnmet need for the treatment of depression in Atlantic Canada
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsStarkes, J.. M.
UniversityDalhousie University
CityHalifax, NS
Keywordsdiseases, disorders and chronic conditions, health services use and unmet health needs, mental health and well-being
Abstract

Objective Most people with depression do not receive treatment, even though effective interventions are available. Population-based data can assist health service planners to improve access to mental health services. This study aimed to examine the determinants of untreated depression in Canada's Atlantic provinces. Method This study used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 1.1. Logistic regression models explored the prevalence of depression and associated patterns of mental health service use among population subgroups. Results Of the respondents, 7.3% experienced major depression in the previous year, as measured by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form. Individuals with the following characteristics were at increased risk for depression: female sex; widowed, separated, or divorced marital status; low income; and 2 or more comorbid medical conditions. Only 40% of respondents with probable depression reported any consultation about their condition with a general practitioner or mental health specialist. Less than one-quarter of Atlantic Canadians with depression reported receiving levels of care consistent with practice guidelines. Vulnerable groups, including older individuals, people with low levels of education, and those living in rural areas, were significantly less likely to receive treatment in either primary or specialty care. Conclusions These findings suggest inequitable access to services and the need to target interventions to at-risk populations by raising awareness among the public and health care providers. Health systems in the Atlantic region must work toward achieving consistent longitudinal care for a larger proportion of individuals suffering from depression by studying the underlying factors for service use among underserved groups.