The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has published a new study on the incidence of depression among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. The study, titled “Communication about Depression during Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient Visits” was published in the February issue of Arthritis Care & Research.
200 arthritis patients from 4 rheumatology clinics with 8 participating doctors were part of the study. The patients doctor visits were audio taped followed by interviews after the medical visit to assess symptoms of depression.
The investigators found that nearly 11% of the rheumatoid arthritis patients had moderately severe to severe depression symptoms and that only 20% of these discussed their depression with their rheumatologist. In those cases where depression was discussed, the patient initiated the discussion, not the doctor, and the discussions were short.
Study leader Betsy Sleath, PhD, of the UNC School of Pharmacy, said: “Chronic diseases can greatly affect a patient’s psychosocial well-being, and depression can also affect a patient’s adherence to treatment regimens. Since many arthritis patients see their rheumatologist more often then their primary-care physician, we recommend that rheumatologists take steps to screen patients for signs of depression.”