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Can telemedicine improve geriatric depression?
Date:10/3/2010

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Studies have shown a high rate of depression among elderly homebound individuals, and few patients receive adequate treatment, if any. To address this issue, researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and other organizations have developed a telemedicine-based depression care protocol in home health care. The early findings from their pilot study will be presented at the 29th Annual Meeting and Exposition of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice on October 3.

Thomas Sheeran, PhD, ME, clinical psychologist in the department of psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital, led the study. Sheeran explains, "Using telemedicine in home care to provide disease management for geriatric depression is timely for several reasons. The home care industry is already using telemedicine to provide chronic disease management for many medical illnesses, such as heart disease. However, guideline-based depression care often is not included in these monitoring programs. Also, research suggests that telemedicine can be successfully used to address mental health needs of the elderly in community settings." Sheeran adds, "Finally, work by the Cornell Homecare Research Partnership and others has shown that community health nurses who typically are the telehealth disease managers in home care can identify and successfully provide this service for their elderly home care patients."

Through the pilot study, Sheeran reports that overall, feasibility and patient satisfaction ratings were very high. He notes that a majority of the elderly participants reported they were satisfied or very satisfied with the protocol, that they quickly became comfortable using the telehealth equipment and there were few technical problems. More importantly, they felt it improved their care and that they would be willing to use it again. The researchers also found that telehealth nurses reported that with the majority of their patients, the Depression TeleCare Protocol was
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Contact: Nancy Cawley Jean
njean@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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