Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice

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Utilization of health care services by depressed patients attending the general out‑patients department of the Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Nigeria

SG Goar, A Obembe, MD Audu, MT Agbir


Background: Depression is a common psychiatric disorder in primary health care throughout the world with increasing incidence and prevalence. It is often under-treated and under-diagnosed. Consequently, several studies have revealed that patients with depression are high utilizers of medical services. Objectives: The study was aimed at determining the frequency of consultation and the utilization of investigative procedures by the depressed and non-depressed patients in the last 12 months. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study among 200 consecutive patients attending the General Out-Patient Department of the Jos University Teaching Hospital between November 2006 and March 2007. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic data and health services utilization indices. Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV axis-1 Disorders (SCID) was used for diagnosis of depression. Results: The study found that 51(25.5%) of the respondents met DSM-IV criteria for the diagnosis of major depression while 149 (74.5%) did not. Depressed patients significantly had more number of consultations with their doctors (P=0.000), had consulted more number of hospitals (P=0.000), stayed longer on admission (P=0.000) and had consumed more types of medicine (P=0.005) in the last 12 months compared with the non-depressed. The depressed patients also had significantly higher mean of different types of investigations compared with non-depressed; urinalysis (1.69 vs 0.55, P=0.000), chest X-ray (0.57 vs 0.21, P=0.000) and Widal test (1.92 vs 0.39, P=0.000). Others are HIV screening (0.39vs0.11, P=0.000) urine mcs (0.94 vs 0.18, P=0.000), stool mcs (1.24 vs 0.20, P=0.000). Conclusion: The study demonstrated that patients who suffer from depression are higher utilizers of health care resources compared with the non-depressed. Therefore, it is recommended that general practitioners and other health workers need to be better equipped to deal with the diagnosis and management of depression.

Keywords: Utilization, health care resources, depression

Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice • Jan-Mar 2012 • Vol 15 • Issue 1
AJOL African Journals Online