[Psychiatric diseases and their treatment in general practice in Germany. Results of a World Health Organization (WHO) study]

M Linden, W Maier, M Achberger, R Herr, H Helmchen, O Benkert
Der Nervenarzt 1996, 67 (3): 205-15
As part of an international study initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) about psychological disorders in primary health care, patients in the Federal Republic of Germany were compared with patients in other European centres. Patients from Germany do not differ from other European patients in respect to sociodemographic variables or psychiatric disorders. The most frequent CIDI-based diagnoses recorded in patients attending general practices are current depressive episodes (8.6%), generalized anxiety disorders (8.5%), neurasthenia (7.5%), and alcohol dependence (6.3%). In 20.9% of the patients at least one psychiatric diagnosis based on ICD-10 was recorded. In Germany significantly lower global ratings of health status are given than in other European centres although there is no difference in diagnostic prevalence rates. The recognition rate, i.e. the agreement between the CIDI-based ICD-10 diagnoses and the recognition as a case by the physician, is 56.2%-60.2%. On the other hand, the CIDI detects 90% of the patients described as psychologically ill by the physicians if subthreshold cases are also counted, or 46.4% if only defined diagnoses are taken into account. There is a significant correlation between severity of the psychiatric disorder and disability in social functioning. In Mainz and in the other European countries the disability rate of patients with a well-defined disorder is between 67.0% and 72.7%, whereas in Berlin this relation is not as clear, because especially in East Berlin there is a higher rate of unemployment in view of the political situation. Drug treatment is prescribed for 16.1% of the patients in primary care for psychiatric disorders. Half the patients recognized by physicians as cases receive medication. In the rest of Europe patients receive significantly more tranquillizers than in Germany, where the use of herbal drugs is more wide spread.

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