Do health professionals' attitudes interfere with the treatment of depression?

Stephen L. Stern*, Tennyson Williams, Samuel L. Dixon, Jeanne A. Clement, Zeeshan A. Butt, Judith A. Schwartzbaum, Kirk Busch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Might the attitudes of health care professionals help to explain why most persons with a depressive disorder do not receive adequate care? To assess this question, the authors surveyed the faculty and staff of a midwestern university. One hundred percent of the social workers who responded found psychotherapy or counseling to be extremely or quite effective in treating persons with a major depressive episode, compared to 55% of the psychologists and 31% of the psychiatrists. For medication, the corresponding figures were 88% of psychiatrists, 64% of psychologists, and 46% of social workers. Many respondents noted problems with interprofessional communication, while most psychiatrists felt that individuals treated by two or more professionals for their depression usually receive poorer care. If future studies indicate that nonmedical therapists who view antidepressants as relatively ineffective are less likely to refer depressed clients for medication evaluation, these findings might help to explain why many depressed individuals who could benefit from medication do not receive it. Concerns about interprofessional communication, as well as psychiatrists' beliefs about the quality of care received by persons treated by more than one professional, might also explain why joint treatment occurs less often than would be desirable. The authors discuss some of the implications that these findings may have for the education of health care professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-155
Number of pages5
JournalDepression and anxiety
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999


  • Communication
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Psychopharmacology psychotherapy
  • Social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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