What comprises clinical experience in recognizing depression? The primary care clinician's perspective

Seong Yi Baik, Barbara J. Bowers, Linda Denise Oakley, Jeffrey L. Susman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: Depression is a highly prevalent condition in primary care settings. In our previously reported work, we investigated the processes and conditions that influence primary care clinicians' recognition of depression. Three conditions influence the recognition of depression: familiarity with the patient, time available, and clinical experience. This article further describes the role of clinical experience in depression care. Methods: The grounded theory method was used to guide data collection and analysis. In-depth, inperson interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 8 clinicians. All interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Results: We identified 3 areas that comprise clinical experience relevant to depression care: (1) knowing one's professional role, (2) knowing oneself, and (3) knowing one's patients. In knowing one's professional role, 4 subdimensions were identified: (1) becoming familiar with illness patterns and clinical skills, (2) learning what works in the real world, (3) understanding what being a doctor is about, and (4) thinking of the whole person. The analysis indicated that clinical experience results from professional and personal growth during interactions with patients. The outcome of this developmental process was the achievement of comfort with depression care, a critical mediating variable that influenced primary care clinicians' recognition of depression. Conclusions: The developmental process of attaining comfort in managing depression warrants further exploration. Developing interventions to speed this process offers another approach to enhancing care for the management of depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-210
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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