The level of recognition of physical symptoms in patients with a major depression episode in the outpatient psychiatric practice in Puerto Rico: An observational study

Tamayo, Jorge M.; Román, Karis; Fumero, Juan J.; Rivas, María
January 2005
BMC Psychiatry;2005, Vol. 5, p28
Academic Journal
Background: This study was designed to evaluate the psychiatrists' level of recognition of somatic symptoms associated to a major depressive episode (MDE) (DSM-IV-TR criteria) and the impact of those somatic symptoms on the treatment effectiveness. Methods: This non-interventional study was conducted in 25 medical offices in Puerto Rico from February to December 2003. It had 2 visits separated by 8 weeks. The level of recognition was determined by: the correlation between the physician clinical evaluation and their patients' self-evaluations through different validated instruments using kappa statistics. Chi-square test was used to evaluate the impact of somatic symptoms on treatment antidepressants' effectiveness. Results: All the 145 recruited patients reported the presence of at least one somatic symptom associated with their current MDE. In the two visits covered by the study, a fair agreement between the psychiatrists' and the patients' reports was noted for headache, abdominal pain and upper limb pains (0.4003 = ? = 0.6594). For other painful symptoms and painless somatic symptoms, the Kappa values obtained were non-significant. Slight but significant reductions in depression and painful symptoms severity were observed after 8 weeks of treatment. A proportional relationship between the pain and depression severity was observed (p < 0.0001). Conclusion: The study results show that somatic symptoms: are very common in depressed Puerto Rican patients; are significant under-reported by psychiatrists; and have a significant impact on the antidepressant effectiveness.


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