Increased antidepressant use and fewer suicides in Jämtland county, Sweden, after a primary care educational programme on the treatment of depression


Svante Henriksson MD, PhD, Psychiatric Center Karolinska, Karolinska University Hospital, Solna, S-171 76 Stockholm.


Objective:  To consider and evaluate a continuing medical education programme for general practitioners (GPs) on depression in Jämtland county, Sweden, inspired by the Gotland study.

Method:  Interactive seminars were conducted between 1995 and 2002 in Jämtland county. For evaluation, suicide rates and annual sales statistics of antidepressants were compared with national averages. Questionnaires were used for information about attitudes and prescribing habits.

Results:  The suicide rate in Jämtland decreased to the same level as the national average. The use of antidepressants increased from 25% below the Swedish average to the same level. The selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were preferred because of their tolerability. Suicide issues were considered to be most important in the management of depressed patients.

Conclusion:  A trend towards a greater prescription of antidepressants and fewer suicides after an educational programme on depression for GPs replicated the findings from the Gotland study. The educational programme will be conducted annually and could be a model for other regions.