Primary Care Patients’ Beliefs about Depression and Entry Into Treatment

Publication Date



Underdiagnosed and undertreated depression continues to be a problem found in primary care settings. Although physician factors, such as lack of up to date knowledge or experience treating depression, may account for discrepancies in diagnosis and treatment, this study investigates whether patient factors might influence the likelihood that patients disclose their depressive symptoms to a physician, which in turn would influence whether patients entered into treatment for depression. Using the Common Sense Model (Leventhal, Brisette, & Leventhal, 2003), this study examined the beliefs of Hispanic and African-American patients who had screened positive for depression symptoms at two Los Angeles area clinics. It was expected that patients' ratings of the identity of their depression (the extent to which they reported experiencing symptoms), consequences of their depression (the extent to which patients reported that depression affected their lives in general), and controllability of their depression (the extent to which patients believed they or others could influence their symptoms) would be related to the likelihood that patients would enter treatment for depression through being diagnosed with a depressive disorder, being given a prescription for anti-depressant, or being referred to a mental health specialist. A positive relationship was found between patient ratings of identity and entry to treatment but no statistically significant relationships were found for ratings of consequences or controllability. Additional exploratory analyses were conducted, including examining the relationship between predictor variables and each of the components of entry to treatment utilized in this study. Future directions for research include further examining what interactions occur during appointments with primary care physicians for patients who complain of depressive symptoms.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Furrow, James

Document Type





Primary care, Mental Depression, Diagnosis




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