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Uncomplicated Depression Linked to Low Suicide Risk

But training clinicians can double detection rate, study finds

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with uncomplicated depression are at low suicide risk, according to a study published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine. However, a second study in the same issue suggests that training of clinicians can double the rate of detection of suicidal tendencies.

Herbert C. Schulberg, Ph.D., of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in White Plains, N.Y., and colleagues studied suicidal ideation in 761 patients in 60 primary care practices participating in a randomized controlled trial of depression management.

In 405 patients experiencing uncomplicated dysthymia, major depression or both, about 90% had no risk or a low risk of self-harm based on the presence and nature of suicidal ideation, the researchers found.

"Almost all patients who were initially classified at the no- or low-risk levels remained at these levels during the subsequent six months," the authors write.

In a second study in the same issue, Paul A. Nutting, M.D., of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, and colleagues report that training of clinicians can double the rate of detection of suicidal tendencies, to 40.7% compared with 20.5% in usual-care practices.

"Primary care interventions to improve depression care can improve detection of recent suicidal ideation," Nutting and colleagues conclude. "Further work is needed to improve physician response to detection."

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