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Public awareness about the connection between depression and physical health: specifically heart disease.

Authors
  • Blumenfield, Michael
  • Suojanen, Julianne K
  • Weiss, Charlene
Type
Published Article
Journal
Psychiatric Quarterly
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2012
Volume
83
Issue
3
Pages
259–269
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11126-011-9199-6
PMID: 22057371
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The medical community continues to acknowledge a connection between depression and physical health, for example, cardiac disease. This study addresses public awareness about depression's effects on physical health, the relationship between cardiac disease and depression, and preferred sources of health information, in an effort to inform future health education programs. A survey, administered to 816 adults ages 40-69, focused on public awareness, perception of depression as an illness, its impact on other illnesses such as heart disease, and sources of health information. (1) Eighty-three percent (83%) of respondents felt depression was an illness; (2) a slightly higher percentage (85.8%) felt a mental disorder, like depression, could affect the course of a physical illness; (3) respondents' awareness of links between depression and cardiac disease ranged from 29.8% (awareness of depression as a risk factor for coronary artery disease) to 31.6% (awareness that depression can increase the risk of having a second heart attack); (4) print media were the most frequently cited sources of health information (22.7%); and (5) more highly educated respondents were more informed about depression than respondents with less education. Although a majority of respondents (1) recognized depression as an illness (2) thought it could complicate recovery from a physical illness, less than a third of them were aware of links between cardiac disease and depression. Demographic groups differed in their preferred sources of health information, especially across educational levels, demonstrating a need for targeted health educational outreach in efforts to reach a variety of populations.

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