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Analysing UK clinicians' understanding of cognitive symptoms in major depression: A survey of primary care physicians and psychiatrists

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Hamish McAllister-WilliamsORCiD, Professor Allan Young



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Background: Cognitive dysfunction occurs in depression and can persist into remission. It impacts on patient functioning but remains largely unrecognised, unmonitored and untreated. We explored understanding of cognitive dysfunction in depression among UK clinicians.Methods: A multi-step consultation process. Step 1: a multi-stakeholder steering committee identified key themes of burden, detection and management of cognitive dysfunction in depression, and developed statements on each to explore understanding and degree of agreement among clinicians. Step 2: 100 general practitioners (GPs) and 100 psychiatrists indicated their level of agreement with these statements. Step 3: the steering committee reviewed responses and highlighted priority areas for future education and research.Results: There was agreement that clinicians are not fully aware of cognitive dysfunction in depression. Views of the relationship between cognitive dysfunction and other depressive symptom severities was not consistent with the literature. In particular, there was a lack of recognition that some cognitive dysfunction can persist into remission. There was understandable uncertainty around treatment options, given the current limited evidence base. However, it was recognised that cognitive dysfunction is an area of unmet need and that there is a lack of objective tests of cognition appropriate for depressed patients that can be easily implemented in the clinic.Limitations: Respondents are likely to be 'led' by the direction of the statements they reviewed. The study did not involve patients and carers.Conclusions: UK clinicians should undergo training regarding cognitive dysfunction in depression, and further research is needed into its assessment, treatment and monitoring.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McAllister-Williams RH, Bones K, Goodwin GM, Harrison J, Katona C, Rasmussen J, Strong S, Young AH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders

Year: 2017

Volume: 207

Pages: 346-352

Print publication date: 01/01/2017

Online publication date: 28/09/2016

Acceptance date: 25/09/2016

Date deposited: 03/07/2017

ISSN (print): 0165-0327

ISSN (electronic): 1573-2517

Publisher: Elsevier Science BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.09.036


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