The assessment of depression awareness and help-seeking behaviour: experiences with the International Depression Literacy Survey

Hickie A. M., Ian B.; Davenport, Tracey A.; Luscombe, Georgina M.; Ye Rong; Hickie, Megan L.; Bell, Morag I.
January 2007
BMC Psychiatry;2007, Vol. 7, p48
Academic Journal
Background: Depression causes substantial disease burden in both developed and developing countries. To reduce this burden, we need to promote understanding of depression as a major health condition. The International Depression Literacy Survey (IDLS) has been developed to assess understanding of depression in different cultural and health care settings. Methods: Four groups of Australian university students completed the survey: medical students in second (n = 103) and fourth (n = 82) years of a graduate course, ethnic Chinese students (n = 184) and general undergraduate students (n = 38). Results: Differences between the student groups were evident, with fourth year medical students demonstrating greater general health and depression literacy than second year medical students. Australian undergraduate students demonstrated better depression literacy than those from ethnic Chinese backgrounds. Ethnicity also influenced help seeking and treatment preferences (with more Chinese students being inclined to seek help from pharmacists), beliefs about discrimination and perceptions regarding stigma. Conclusion: The IDLS does detect significant differences in understanding of depression among groups from different ethnic backgrounds and between those who differ in terms of prior health training. These preliminary results suggest that it may be well suited for use in a wider international context. Further investigation of the utility of the IDLS is required before these results could be extrapolated to other populations.


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