The pros and cons of screening patients for depression.

Recently, an analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) indicates that current recommendations for screening for depression may be misguided, and further investigation is required to develop evidence-based guidelines. 

In both the US and Canada, current guidelines recommend screening as long as collaborative care programs are available to support diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.

Although this view is also widely held in Australia, screening is not advocated by the RACGP, nor by experts such as Professor Ian Hickie, director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute, because it is believed that the treatment pathways are just not good enough. 

According to Professor Hickie, “there’s no point in evaluating screening, or recommending it, if you do not have very good treatment pathways in operation.” He says “the earlier enthusiasm for screening assumed that high quality and ongoing care

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