This study aimed to document the outcome dimensions that physicians see as important in defining cure from depression. The study also aimed to analyse physicians' attitudes about depression and to find out whether they affect their prescribing practices and/or the outcome dimensions that they view as important in defining cure.
A 51-item questionnaire based on six validated scales was used to rate the importance of several depression outcome dimensions. Physicians' attitudes about depression were also assessed using the Depression Attitude Scale. Overall, 369 Belgian physicians (264 general practitioners [GPs]; 105 psychiatrists) participated in the DEsCRIBE™ survey.
GPs and psychiatrists strongly agreed that functioning and depressive symptomatology were most important in defining cure; anxious and somatic symptomatology was least important. GPs and psychiatrists differed in their attitudes about depression (p <0.001). Logistic regression revealed that the attitudes of GPs - but not psychiatrists - were significantly associated with their rates of antidepressant prescription (p < 0.001) and that certain attitudes predicted which outcome dimensions were seen as important in defining cure.
Belgian GPs and psychiatrists strongly agreed on which criteria were important in defining cure from depression but differed in their attitudes about depression. The outcome dimensions that were considered important in defining cure were influenced by physicians' attitudes - this was more pronounced in GPs than in psychiatrists.