This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Depression common in patients with musculoskeletal problems

Over a third of patients with musculoskeletal problems also have depression, say researchers.

The study

Researchers from Keele University and Haywood Hospital in Stoke analysed data from 2,166 adults aged 18 or over that attended a musculoskeletal clinical assessment and treatment services (CATS). All participants were posted a health questionnaire - based on recognised health scores, such as the Short Form-36 - two weeks before their CATS appointment and asked to bring the completed questionnaire to their next clinic appointment.

The findings

Some 1,202 patients (57%) that attended had chronic pain, defined as pain lasting more than one year and 1,651 (76%) patients suffered a major physical limitation. 516 (45%) reported having had time off work in the preceding six months due to musculoskeletal problems and 37% of patients had suspected depression – 420 rated as ‘borderline’ cases and 380 as ‘probable’ cases.

What does it mean for GPs?

The authors concluded that the high prevalence of chronic pain, anxiety and depression provided insight into the important of ‘providing appropriate training for health professionals to deliver a biopsychosocial model of care.’ They added that the prevalence of work absence supports the need for healthcare professionals to ‘recognise retention in, or return to, work as a key indicator of successful treatment.’

BJGP 2013, online 28 January

Have your say