To identify associations of patient characteristics (predisposing, enabling and need factors) with guideline-concordant care for anxiety and depression in primary care. Analysis of data from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). Seven hundred and twenty-one patients with a current anxiety or depressive disorder, recruited from 67 general practitioners (GPs), were included. Diagnoses according to the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) were made using a structured and widely validated assessment. Socio-demographic and enabling characteristics, severity of symptoms, disability, (under treatment for) chronic somatic conditions, perceived need for care, beliefs and evaluations of care were measured by questionnaires. Actual care data were derived from electronic medical records. Criteria for guideline-concordant care were based on general practice guidelines, issued by the Dutch College of General Practitioners. Two hundred and eighty-one (39%) patients received guideline-concordant care. High education level, accessibility of care, comorbidity of anxiety and depression, and severity and disability scores were positively associated with receiving guideline-concordant care in univariate analyses. In multivariate multi-level logistic regression models, significant associations with the clinical need factors disappeared. Positive evaluations of accessibility of care increased the chance (OR = 1.31; 95%-CI = 1.05-1.65; p = 0.02) of receiving guideline-concordant care, as well as perceiving any need for medication (OR = 2.99; 95%-CI = 1.84-4.85; p < 0.001), counseling (OR = 2.25; 95%-CI = 1.29-3.95; p = 0.005) or a referral (OR = 1.83; 95%-CI = 1.09-3.09; p = 0.02). A low educational level decreased the odds (OR = 0.33; 95%-CI = 0.11-0.98; p = 0.04) of receiving guideline-concordant care. This study shows that education level, accessibility of care and patients' perceived needs for care are more strongly associated with the delivery of guideline-concordant care for anxiety or depression than clinical need factors. Initiatives to improve GPs' communication skills around mental health issues, and to improve recognition of people suffering from anxiety disorders, could increase the number of patients receiving treatment for depression and anxiety in primary care
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