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Depression is a leading cause of morbidity, disability and health care utilization. It is commonly encountered in primary care settings yet is often missed or suboptimally managed. We summarize studies conducted in Israel on the prevalence of depression in primary care settings, its correlates, and predictors of treatment and outcome, and discuss their implications for clinical practice and public health policy. An electronic search was conducted using the MEDLINE and PsychINFO databases. The inclusion criteria were original studies that assessed aspects of depression in a population aged 18 or older, were conducted in primary care settings in Israel, and had sufficient detailed description of depression-related measures, study sample and outcome measures. Twelve articles reporting results from seven studies met these criteria. The prevalence of current depression in primary care varied considerably across studies: 1.6-5.9% for major depression, 1.1-5.4% for minor depression, 14.3-24% for depressive symptoms. Depression was consistently related to female gender and fewer years of education, and was associated with disability, decreased quality of life, and increased health-related expenditure. Many cases of depression were undiagnosed and most patients had persistent depression or achieved only partial remission. Depression represents a serious challenge for the primary health care system in Israel. Greater efforts should be focused on screening and treating depression in primary care. However, the studies reviewed here used different methodologies and assessed different aspects of depression and, therefore, should be generalized cautiously. Systematic research on the prevalence, correlates and management of depression in primary care, with emphasis on collaborative care models, is strongly needed to inform research, clinicians and health care policy makers.


Journal article


Isr Med Assoc J

Publication Date





571 - 578


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Comorbidity, Depression, Depressive Disorder, Health Status Indicators, Humans, Israel, Middle Aged, Primary Health Care, Treatment Outcome