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Care management reduces depression and suicidal thoughts in older primary care patients
Date:6/23/2009

NEW YORK (June 23, 2009) -- Depression in older adults too often goes unrecognized and untreated, resulting in untold misery, worsening of medical illness, and early death. A new study has identified one important remedy: Adding a trained depression care manager to primary care practices can increase the number of patients receiving treatment, lead to a higher remission rate of depression, and reduce suicidal thoughts.

The two-year outcomes of the multicenter Prevention of Suicide in Primary Care Elderly: Collaborative Trial (PROSPECT) study are published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Lead author of the study is Dr. George S. Alexopoulos, director of the Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"Almost one in 10 older adults in the United States has some form of depression, and one-fifth among them contemplates suicide. Two-thirds of these patients are treated by primary care physicians. Sadly, their depression is often inadequately treated due to the primary care physician's time constraints and the patient's reluctance to discuss their symptoms and adhere to treatment," says Dr. Alexopoulos. "The critical finding of the PROSPECT study is that adding a trained care manager to primary care practices increases the number of depressed older patients who receive treatment and improves their outcomes, not only in the short term, but over two years.

"This is important because depression can either become chronic or relapse after an initial improvement," adds Dr. Alexopoulos. "Most diseases have worse outcomes when an old person becomes depressed. Depression almost doubles the risk for death. It follows that treating depression effectively can reduce sickness, disability and death."

The study, conduced by NewYork Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of
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Contact: Eliza Whoriskey O'Neill
esw9002@nyp.org
914-682-6991
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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