Professional interventions to improve the detection of depression among adolescents in primary care

Depression is common in adolescence - studies show that 3% - 8% of adolescents suffer from depression at any one time, and that there is a lifetime prevalence of approximately 20% by the end of adolescence, which is similar to that of adulthood. Adolescent depression is associated with considerable impairment in social, academic and physical functioning, and is a a major risk factor for suicide. According to a recent EU report, Ireland has the highest rate of female suicide (2.1/100,000) and the second highest rate of male suicide (5.1/100,000) for people under 19 years of age.
General practice is well-placed to facilitate early intervention for mental health problems among adolescents and young people. The vast majority of young people (approximately 70%) will visit their GP at least once a year and thus GPs are well-positioned to serve an important monitoring and health promotion function in terms of adolescent mental health. General practice can also act as a conduit to specialised services for those experiencing mental disorders and provide ongoing support. However, depression in adolescents attending primary care often goes undetected.
We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of professional interventions to improve the detection of depression among adolescents in primary care. The review aims to answer the following questions:
1. Does training of primary care practitioners (PCPs) improve detection of adolescent depression? 2. Do other professional interventions for PCPs (e.g. audit and feedback) improve detection of adolescent depression? 3. Do professional interventions for PCPs lead to a reduction in depressive symptoms of identified adolescents? 4. Are professional interventions for PCPs more effective for particular groups of adolescents e.g. younger/older age groups; male/female? 5. Are some types of professional interventions more effective than other types for improving detection of adolescent depression and reducing depressive symptomatolog? 6. Are there adverse consequences of the above interventions, e.g. misdiagnosis?

Award Date
18 September 2015
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Davina Swan
Host Institution
University College Dublin
Cochrane Training Fellowships