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Neurological disease, emotional disorder, and disability: they are related: a study of 300 consecutive new referrals to a neurology outpatient department
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  1. Alan J Carsona,
  2. Brigitte Ringbauera,
  3. Lesley MacKenzied,
  4. Charles Warlowb,
  5. Michael Sharpea,c
  1. aDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside Park, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, bDepartment of Medical Neurology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, cDepartment of Psychological Medicine, dDepartment of Clinical Neurology, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
  1. Dr A J Carson, Department of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside Park, Edinburgh, EH10 5HF, Scotland, UK emailA.Carson{at}ed.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES To determine the prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders in patients referred to general neurology outpatient clinics, to compare disability and number of somatic symptoms in patients with and without emotional disorder, the relation to neurological disease, and assess the need for psychiatric treatment as perceived by patients and doctors.

METHODS A prospective cohort study set in a regional neurology service in Edinburgh, Scotland. The subjects were 300 newly referred consecutive outpatients who were assessed for DSM IV anxiety and depressive disorders (PRIME-MD, and HAD), health status, and disability (SF-36), and patients', GPs' and neurologists' ratings of the need for patient to receive psychiatric or psychological treatment.

RESULTS Of 300 new patients, 140 (47%) met criteria for one or more DSM IV anxiety or depressive diagnosis. Major depression was the most common (27%). A comparison of patients with and without emotional disorder showed that physical function, physical role functioning, bodily pain, and social functioning were worse in patients with emotional disorders (p<0.0005). The median number of somatic symptoms was greater in patients with emotional disorders (p<0.0005). These differences were independent of the presence of neurological disease. Few patients wished to receive psychiatric or psychological treatments. Both general practitioners and neurologists were more likely to recommend psychiatric treatment when the patients' symptoms were medically unexplained.

CONCLUSIONS Almost half of new referrals to general neurology clinics met criteria for a DSM IV psychiatric diagnosis. These patients were more disabled, and had more somatic symptoms. They expressed little enthusiasm for receiving psychiatric treatment.

  • neurological disease
  • emotional disorder

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