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Do general practitioners and psychiatrists agree about defining cure from depression? The DEsCRIBE™ survey

Koen Demyttenaere1*, Marc Ansseau2, Eric Constant3, Adelin Albert4, Geert Van Gassen5 and Kees van Heeringen6

Author Affiliations

1 University Psychiatric Centre, Catholic University of Leuven, Campus Gasthuisberg, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium

2 Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, University and CHU of Liège, CHU Sart-Tilman (B35), B-4000, Liège, Belgium

3 Department of Psychiatry, Catholic University of Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Avenue Hippocrate 10, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium

4 Department of Medical Informatics and Biostatistics, University of Liège, CHU Sart Tilman, B-4000 Liège, Belgium

5 Medical Department, Lundbeck Belgium, Avenue Molièrelaan 225, B-1050 Brussels

6 University Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, Unit for Suicide Research, University of Ghent Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium

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BMC Psychiatry 2011, 11:169  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-11-169

Published: 14 October 2011



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 DEsCRIBEsurvey.


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.