Depressive Symptoms and Perceived Doctor-Patient Communication in the Heart and Soul Study

This article examines the relationship between depression and perceived communication quality between patients and doctors. Interactions involving physicians and patients are an important component of health care quality, and little is known about whether depression influences patients' perceptions of communication quality.

The authors conducted a cross-sectional study of 703 patients with coronary disease who completed the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire, and the communications-specific subscales from the Interpersonal Processes of Care instrument.

Key Findings:

  • Patients who were female, white, Asian, or had depressive symptoms were more likely to report lower perceived quality of patient-doctor communication.
  • Among patients with depressive symptoms, those with higher depression symptom scores were more likely to report poorly received explanations of conditions and poor responsiveness to patient preferences.
  • Other disease and health factors were not associated with patient perceptions of the quality of patient-doctor communications.

Depressed patients were more likely to report poor communications with doctors, suggesting that patients' psychological state might influence their perceptions of interactions with their physicians.