Depression and Role Impairment Among Adolescents in Primary Care Clinics
Published in: Journal of Adolescent Health, v. 37, no. 6, Dec. 2005, p. 477-483
Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2004
PURPOSE: To evaluate the association between depression and role impairment in a primary care sample, with and without controlling for the effects of general medical conditions. METHODS: Cross-sectional survey of consecutive primary care patients, ages 13-21 years (n = 3471), drawn from six sites including public health, managed care, and academic health center clinics. The authors assessed probable depressive disorder, depressive symptoms, and common medical problems using youth self-report on a brief screening questionnaire. Main outcome measures were two indicators of role impairment: (a) decrement in productivity/role activity, defined as not in school or working full time; and (b) low educational attainment, defined as more than 2 years behind in school or = 20 years of age and failed to complete high school. RESULTS: Adolescents screening positive for probable depressive disorder had elevated rates of productivity/role activity decrements (19% vs. 13%; OR 1.69; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.39-2.06; p < 0.001) and low educational attainment (20% vs. 15%; OR 1.47; 95% CI 1.21-1.78; p < 0.001). Probable depressive disorder made a unique contribution to the prediction of these impairment indicators after adjusting for the effect of having a general medical condition; controlling for depression, the presence of a general medical condition did not contribute to role impairment. CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent primary care patients screening positive for depression are at increased risk for impairment in school/work productivity and educational attainment. These findings emphasize the importance of primary care clinicians' attention to depression and role limitations.