Support #645

lifetime depression diagnosis rates

Added by Dan Howdon about 6 years ago. Updated about 6 years ago.

Biomarkers and Genetics
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I'm working with Understanding Society (US) and am somewhat confused by the lifetime depression diagnosis rates reported in Wave 1. I have checked your guidance and cannot see anything that deals with this topic, nor can I find any published papers that flag this up. I'd appreciate any suggestions you had that could help point towards explanations for this, or if there's any of your documentation that might explain this that I've missed.

Lifetime depression diagnosis rates seem somewhat at odds with existing research -- both on average and when age-stratified groups are considered. For instance, Health Survey for England (HSE) 2014 shows around 13% of their sample have ever been diagnosed with depression by a doctor/other medical professional. This seems . When the same substantive question is posed in US, this rate is only 7% (variable a_hcond17). While the questions are perhaps posed in a different way (with a single showcard in US, and with structured questions of 'Do you think you have ever had condition x?' and subsequently 'Did a doctor/other health professional diagnose you with x?'), this seems a rather large discrepancy. When GHQ questions about contemporary rates of depression/unhappiness are examined in each, HSE and US (variable a_scghqi) report broadly similar rates -- indeed, US seems to find a greater proportion of people who are feeling worse than normal.

I've looked at potentially relevant factors in explaining this, such as whether anyone else was present at the interview, but can only find small differences here, and no groups for which this diagnosis rate is more than 1-2 % points higher. My coauthor and I would really appreciate any advice you could offer.


Dan Howdon
University of Groningen

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