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A randomized clinical trial was performed to assess whether the results of a depression screening instrument, when provided to physicians, could influence their recognition and treatment of depression in a primary care setting. The intervention consisted of randomly informing or not informing physicians of the depression status of 100 patients who screened positively for depression on both the Zung Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS) and a DSM-III screen. For 12 months patients were followed to assess depression status, and medical records were audited to assess depression recognition and treatment. Results show that feedback to physicians of SDS scores of previously unrecognized depressed patients makes a significant difference in greater recognition (56.2% vs. 34.6%) and treatment (56.2% vs. 42.3%) of depression over the 12-month study period. This was especially true for patients with high somatic (P < 0.05) or low psychologic symptoms of depression (P < 0.05). These results suggest that routine use of a depression screening instrument can improve physician recognition of depression, with increased initiation of treatment.