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Help seeking among vision-impaired adults referred to their GP for depressive symptoms: patient characteristics and outcomes associated with referral uptake
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2015, 00:00 authored by Edith HollowayEdith Holloway, Bonnie Sturrock, Ecosse Lamoureux, Jill E Keeffe, Gwyneth Rees
Adults with vision impairment commonly experience depression; however, depression often remains undetected and therefore untreated in this group. Using a prospective longitudinal design, the aim of this study was to determine the rate of uptake for a referral to a general practitioner (GP), in vision-impaired adults, who were screened for depression in low vision rehabilitation and eye-care settings. Fifty-seven vision-impaired adults (aged ≥18 years) were recruited from low vision rehabilitation centres across Australia and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, between June 2010 and May 2012. Participants screened positive for depressive symptoms and were referred to their GP for follow up. Telephone assessments took place at baseline, 3 and 6 months to determine uptake of a GP referral and changes in depressive symptoms over 6 months. Forty-six per cent of participants followed through with the GP referral. A desire for emotional support and stigma towards seeking support from a psychologist were significantly associated with uptake (both P < 0.05). GPs were more likely to recommend anti-depressant medication compared with a psychologist consultation (69% v. 54%) and patients themselves were more likely to take anti-depressant medication (94% v. 14% who saw a psychologist). Depressive symptoms decreased significantly over 6 months for those who followed through with a GP referral (baseline M = 10.04, s.d. = 5.76 v. 6-months M = 6.20, s.d. = 3.38; z = –2.26, P = 0.02) but not for those who did not use the GP referral (z = –1.92, P = 0.55). This method of referral to a GP following depression screening may provide an effective pathway to detect and manage depression in vision-impaired adults.