Depression and Doctor-Patient Communication in the Emergency Department
OBJECTIVE: Depression may adversely affect health outcomes by influencing doctor-patient communication. We aimed to determine the association between depressive symptoms and doctor-patient communication among patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with a suspected acute coronary syndrome (ACS). METHOD: We enrolled a consecutive sample of 500 patients evaluated for ACS symptoms from the ED of an urban medical center. Depressive symptoms (8-item Patient Health Questionnaire, PHQ-8) and doctor-patient communication in the ED (Interpersonal Processes of Care) were assessed during hospitalization. Logistic regression was used to determine the association between depressive symptoms and doctor-patient communication, adjusting for age, sex, race, ethnicity, education, language, health insurance status and comorbidities. RESULTS: Compared to nondepressed patients, depressed patients (PHQ-8≥10) were more likely (P<.05) to report suboptimal communication on five of seven communication domains: clarity, elicitation of concerns, explanations, patient-centered decision making and discrimination. A greater proportion of depressed versus nondepressed patients reported suboptimal overall communication (39.8% versus 22.9%, P<.001). In adjusted analyses, depressed patients remained more likely to report suboptimal doctor-patient communication (adjusted odds ratio 2.42, 95% confidence interval 1.52-3.87; P<.001). CONCLUSIONS: Depressed patients with ACS symptoms reported less optimal doctor-patient communication in the ED than nondepressed patients. Research is needed to determine whether subjectively rated differences in communication are accompanied by observable differences.
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- General Hospital Psychiatry