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AAFP Statement: No Evidence That Family Physicians Have a Lower Success Rate Treating Depression
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 19, 2003
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5222
Dr. Ronald Kessler, Ph.D.,
Department of Health Care Policy
Harvard Medical School
The correction refers to my statements characterizing ‘family doctors’ as providing inadequate treatment of depression. These statements should have referred to ‘general medical doctors,’ which include all physicians other than psychiatrists (e.g., general practitioners, internists, family physicians, obstetrician-gynecologists, and other medical specialists), rather than to ‘family physicians.’ There is no evidence in our study that family physicians have a lower rate of successfully treating depression than other general medical doctors. I regret having unfairly singled out family medicine specialists in my comments.
Although our study cites no evidence on this matter, I would also note that a 1999 article published in the Archives of Family Medicine found that ‘the degree of formal evaluation [for depression] varied markedly by specialty, with family physicians being more likely to follow recommended guidelines for diagnostic evaluation.’”
Family physicians, like other medical specialists, complete an extensive three-year residency program after graduating from medical school. As part of their residency, family physicians receive training in six major medical areas: pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, surgery, and community medicine.
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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 110,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is 240 million office visits each year — nearly 87 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.
To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org.
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