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I was interested in the conclusions of the Cochrane review on screening for depression (News, 29 October). Mindless screening of the entire GP population is unlikely to be either effective or cheap, but thoughtful screening is a different matter.

There are a number of useful tools for measuring mood, quality of life and social functioning that are not intrusive and, if used thoughtfully, can help in the same way that HbA1c, peak flow meters and sphygmos do for physical ailments.

Perhaps screening is not as effective as it could be because there is currently little incentive, apart from caring, for GPs to bother with depression. The QOFologists haven't factored it in (yet) and many organisations and individuals do not even regard it as a severe and enduring mental illness.

I completely agree with both Professor Kendrick and Dr Cohen that we can at least focus on known at-risk groups.

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