Document Type




Format of Original

8 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

Women's Health Issues

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1016/j.whi.2016.07.002; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5026909



Health care providers are better able to diagnose depression and initiate treatment when patients disclose symptoms. However, many women are reluctant to disclose depressive symptoms. Little is known about the experience of disclosing depression symptoms in primary care among racially and ethnically diverse women across the life course. We qualitatively explore experiences of disclosure of depressive symptoms to primary care providers among self-identified African American, Hispanic and non-Hispanic White women.


Twenty-four women with depression were recruited for open-ended interviews. We recorded, transcribed, and coded interviews using inductive content analysis.


Two distinct domains emerged: participant factors that hinder and facilitate disclosure and provider cues that encourage and dissuade discussing depression. Participants described perceptions about primary care not being the appropriate place, fear of not having a choice in treatment decisions, and the emotional cost of retelling as impediments to disclosure; perceiving an increased likelihood of getting help was described as a facilitator. Women identified provider behaviors of asking about depression and showing concern as facilitators, and provider time constraints as a barrier to disclosure.


Women perceive that primary care is not the appropriate place to disclose depression symptoms. Increased public education about behavioral health management in primary care, as well as more robust integration of the two, is needed. Efforts to improve depression disclosure in primary care must also encompass systematic use of depression screening tools and implementation of targeted interventions to cultivate provider empathy.


Accepted version. Women's Health Issues Vol. 26, No. 5 (September-October 2016): 529-536. DOI. © 2016 Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. Published by Elsevier Inc. Used with permission.

Available for download on Sunday, October 01, 2017