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Depression in older cancer patients can be effectively treated with collaborative approach
Date:10/20/2009

Depression in older cancer patients can be effectively treated with collaborative approach in primary-care settings

Depression in older cancer patients is very common, and has debilitating effects on their quality of life both during and after treatment. University of Washington (UW) researchers are showing that there are ways to better this situation.

"Little is known about the optimal approach to treating depression in this population, and older cancer patients are less likely to be treated for their depression than are younger cancer patients," said Dr. Jesse Fann, University of Washington associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Fann is the director of psychiatric services at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and an investigator in the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Fann and his colleagues evaluated the effectiveness in older, depressed cancer patients of an intervention called Improving Mood-Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment (IMPACT), in comparison to a similar set of patients receiving usual care. All participants had either major depression or a type of chronic depression called dysthymia, or a combination of both.

IMPACT participants worked with a depression care manager in their primary-care clinic for up to a year. Under the supervision of the patient's primary-care provider and a psychiatrist, the care manager offered the patient support in taking anti-depressants if prescribed by the primary-care provider, education about depression, care coordination and structured counseling sessions that helped the patient engage in pleasant activities and that taught problem-solving skills.

The intervention was tested in 18 primary-care clinics in 5 states. The clinics served a variety of different socio-economic, geographic, and ethnic populations.

At the end of six months, 55 percent of the patients in the IMPACT group and
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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@u.washington.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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