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29-11-2020 | Special Section: Feedback Tools | Uitgave 11/2021 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 11/2021

GPs’ views on the use of depression screening and GP-targeted feedback: a qualitative study

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 11/2021
Lea-Elena Braunschneider, Marco Lehmann, Julia Luise Magaard, Tharanya Seeralan, Gabriella Marx, Marion Eisele, Martin Scherer, Bernd Löwe, Sebastian Kohlmann
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-020-02703-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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The first aim of this qualitative study was to identify general practitioners’ (GPs’) views on depression screening combined with GP-targeted feedback in primary care. The second aim was to determine the needs and preferences of GPs with respect to GP-targeted feedback to enhance the efficacy of depression screening.


A semistructured qualitative interview was conducted with officially registered GPs in Hamburg (Germany). Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. An inductive approach was used to code the transcripts.


Nine GPs (27 to 70 years; 5 male) from Hamburg, Germany, participated. Regarding depression screening combined with GP-targeted feedback, five thematic groups were identified: application of screening; screening and patient–physician relationships; GPs’ attitudes towards screening; benefits and concerns related to screening; and GPs’ needs and preferences regarding feedback. While the negative aspects of screening can be described in rather general terms (e.g., screening determines the mental health competence, screening threatens the doctor–patient relationship, revealing questions harm the patients), its advantages were very specific (e.g., promoting the identification of undetected cases, relief of the daily workload, wider communication channel to reach more patients). Standardized GP-targeted feedback of the screening results was perceived as helpful and purposeful. GPs preferred feedback materials that eased their clinical workload (e.g., short text with visuals, pictures, or images).


Addressing GPs’ needs is essential when implementing depression screening tools in clinical practice. To overcome prejudices and enhance the efficacy of screening, further education for GPs on the purpose and application on depression screening may be needed. Standardized GP-targeted feedback in combination with depression screening could be the missing link to improve the detection of depression in primary care.

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