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New funding to study the care of depression in general practice

Published: 
13 May 2003

A University of Southampton specialist in depression research has successfully led a novel bid for funding from the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme to examine the medical treatment of depression in general practices.

This 30-month multi-centre study known as THREAD (THREshold for AntiDepressant treatment) was awarded £485,527 by the programme and is the latest medical study at the University of Southampton examining the treatment of depression in the UK.

Professor Tony Kendrick and Professor Robert Peveler from the Primary Medical Care and Psychiatry groups in the University's School of Medicine will examine the use of fluoxetine (also known as 'Prozac') by general practitioners as a way to treat depression.

Depression is a huge public health problem, which is largely dealt with by GPs. It is estimated around 80 million working days a year are lost because of depression in England alone - and that drug treatments for depression currently cost the nation more than £300m each year, with the average GP writing four antidepressant prescriptions every working day.

Professor Kendrick and Peveler's research will provide general practitioners with essential information on the level of severity of depression for which antidepressants might be prescribed and which social factors and individual patient attributes are important to take into account when deciding whether or not to intervene medically.

Professor Kendrick said: "GPs are caught between a rock and a hard place when deciding whether or not to give someone the label of depression and intervene with medical treatment. On the one hand we are accused of missing treatable depression, and on the other we are accused of wanting to medicalise unhappiness. More research evidence, gathered in the primary care setting rather than in hospitals, is needed to guide GPs in their treatment decisions."

Related Staff Member

Related Staff Member

Notes for editors

  1. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £235 million.
  2. Professor Tony Kendrick is the Director of the Community Clinical Sciences Division of the School of Medicine at the University of Southampton. He has led a number of studies on depression in the UK and is an expert in his field.
  3. THREAD is a multi-centre study involving the University of Southampton, the Institute of Psychiatry and King's College in London and the University of Liverpool.
  4. www.NCCHTA.org - contains information on research sponsored by the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme.

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