No evidence routine depression screening beneficial

Routine depression screening may not be leading to better treatment for persons with depression, according to a study published in the September 2011 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study reports a lack of evidence supporting routine depression screening as resulting in better treatment outcomes for persons with depression.

“Screening in primary care is a resource-intensive endeavor, does not yet show evidence of benefit and would have unintended negative effects for some patients,” writes Dr. Brett Thombs, the study’s lead author and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University.

The resources currently being used to perform such routine screening may be better allocated toward more consistent treatment for persons with recurrent depressions, writes the authors.

Routine depression screening is recommended in the United States and Canada, but not in the United Kingdom. The  UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence Guidelines does not recommend screening due, in part, to the lack of evidence of efficacy and the diversion of resources away from persons with serious depressions.

The study recommends further study be done to evaluate the effectiveness of routine depression screening.

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