GPs prescribe fewer antidepressants to ethnic minorities

GPs are prescribing fewer antidepressants in communities with more black and South Asian people, suggesting possible disparities in the provision of care, a study has found.

Researchers from King’s College, London, also found practices in socially deprived areas are more likely to be described antidepressants, as are GPs in areas with high levels of chronic illness, such as asthma, lung disease, and epilepsy.

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry this month, explores the relationship between ethnicity, social deprivation, physical illness, and the volume of antidepressants prescribed in primary care.

It concluded that the higher prescribing rates in deprived communities and those where long-term illnesses were commonly found could be explained by the higher levels of depression associated with the two factors.

However, organisational variations had little impact on the volumes of antidepressants prescribed, despite the researchers predicting that longer appointment times would lead to more prescribing because cases of depression were more likely to be recognised.

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