The Influence of Depressive Symptoms on Clinician-Patient Communication Among Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

In this study, the researchers investigated whether patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and comorbid depression report worse communication with their physicians than their counterparts without depressive symptoms, and which domains of communication seem most affected.

Patients who suffer from depression often experience poor chronic disease outcomes, but it is not known how much this mental illness influences the quality of physician-patient communication during a clinical encounter. The study analyzed data from 231 English-speaking individuals. Data were extracted from a larger study of diabetics that took place at San Francisco General Hospital, a public institution that serves a low-income and ethnically diverse population. Seventy-five physicians cared for the 231 patients.

Key Findings:

  • A high prevalence of severe depressive symptoms among the participants (35%).
  • Participants who had severe but not mild depressive symptoms were more likely to report sub-optimal communication with their physician in the areas of patient problems, concerns, expectations, explanations of condition, empowerment and decision-making.

Further research of this relationship between quality of care and depression may help guide interventions and improve treatment for both conditions.