eHealth in the Management of Depressive Episodes in Catalonia’s Primary Care From 2017 to 2022: Retrospective Observational Study.

eHealth in the Management of Depressive Episodes in Catalonia’s Primary Care From 2017 to 2022: Retrospective Observational Study.

Publication date: Jan 18, 2024

The reasons for mental health consultations are becoming increasingly relevant in primary care. The Catalan health care system is undergoing a process of digital transformation, where eHealth is becoming increasingly relevant in routine clinical practice. This study aimed to analyze the approach to depressive episodes and the role of eHealth in the Catalan health care system from 2017 to 2022. A retrospective observational study was conducted on diagnostic codes related to depressive episodes and mood disorders between 2017 and 2022 using data from the Catalan Institute of Health. The sociodemographic evolution and prevalence of depression and mood disorders in Catalonia were analyzed between 2017 and 2022. Sociodemographic variables were analyzed using absolute frequency and percentage. The prevalence of depressive episodes was calculated, highlighting the year-to-year changes. The use of eHealth for related consultations was assessed by comparing the percentages of eHealth and face-to-face consultations. A comparison of sociodemographic variables based on attendance type was conducted. Additionally, a logistic regression model was used to explore factors influencing face-to-face attendance. The analysis used R software (version 4. 2.1), with all differences examined using 95% CIs. From 2017 to 2022, there was an 86. 6% increase in the prevalence of depression and mood disorders, with women consistently more affected (20,950/31,197, 67. 2% in 2017 and 22,078/33,169, 66. 6% in 2022). In 2022, a significant rise in depression diagnoses was observed in rural areas (difference 0. 71%, 95% CI 0. 04%-1. 43%), contrasting with a significant decrease in urban settings (difference -0. 7%, 95% CI -1. 35% to -0. 05%). There was a significant increase in antidepressant use in 2022 compared to 2017 (difference 2. 4%, 95% CI 1. 87%-3. 06%) and the proportion of eHealth visits rose from 4. 34% (1240/28,561) in 2017 to 26. 3% (8501/32,267) in 2022. Logistic regression analysis indicated that men (odds ratio [OR] 1. 06, 95% CI 1. 04-1. 09) and younger individuals had a higher likelihood of eHealth consultations in 2022. Furthermore, individuals using eHealth consultations were more likely to use antidepressants (OR 1. 54, 95% CI 1. 50-1. 57) and anxiolytics (OR 1. 06, 95% CI 1. 03-1. 09). The prevalence of depression in Catalonia has significantly increased in the last 6 years, likely influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite ongoing digital transformation since 2011, eHealth usage remained limited as of 2017. During the lockdown period, eHealth accounted for nearly half of all health care consultations, representing a quarter of consultations by 2022. In the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging evidence suggests a significant role of eHealth in managing depression-related consultations, along with an apparent likelihood of patients being prescribed antidepressants and anxiolytics. Further research is needed to understand the long-term impact of eHealth on diagnostic practices and medication use.

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Concepts Keywords
Catalonia clinical practice
Depressive clinical practices
Routine depression
depressive disorder
digital tool
digital tools
digital transformation
healthcare system
mental disorder
mental disorders
mental health patient
primary health care


Type Source Name
disease IDO process
disease MESH mood disorders
disease VO frequency
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
drug DRUGBANK Methylphenidate
disease MESH Pica
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease MESH depressive disorder
disease MESH mental disorder
disease VO organization
disease VO population
disease MESH emotional distress
disease IDO quality
disease VO Equity
disease VO efficient
disease VO protocol
disease VO monthly
disease VO effectiveness
disease MESH cyclothymia
disease MESH dysthymia
disease MESH reactive disorders
disease IDO history
disease VO volume
disease VO time
disease VO document
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
drug DRUGBANK Ilex paraguariensis leaf
disease MESH Coma
drug DRUGBANK Sulfachlorpyridazine
disease VO Pla
disease MESH diabetes mellitus
drug DRUGBANK Timonacic
pathway REACTOME Reproduction

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