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Online messaging delivers follow-up care for depression
Date:3/16/2011

SEATTLEOnline messaging can deliver organized follow-up care for depression effectively and efficiently, according to a randomized controlled trial of 208 Group Health patients that the Journal of General Internal Medicine e-published in advance of print.

After five months, compared to the half of the patients randomly assigned to receive usual care, the half who had three online care management contacts with a trained psychiatric nurse were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, take their antidepressant medication as prescribed, and be "very satisfied" with their treatment for depression. The patients in the trial were starting antidepressant medication that their primary care providers prescribed.

"While more Americans are taking antidepressants, the quality of care for depression remains among the lowest scores on the U.S. health care report card," said Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH, a Group Health psychiatrist and Group Health Research Institute senior investigator. "Especially in primary care, where most treatment for depression starts, not enough patients receive follow-up contact or take their antidepressant medication as prescribed."

In previous studies, Dr. Simon and his colleagues have successfully delivered organized care for depression using telephone calls. Organized depression care means systematically reaching out to patients, assessing their depression and whether they are taking their antidepressant medication as prescribed, and following guidelines for evidence-based care. One such guideline is suggesting that the primary care provider change the doseor add or switch to another medicationif depression or side effects bother a patient after a standard trial period. The bottom line: persistently tailoring treatment to boost each individual's response.

Why try pursuing these same goals using online messaging instead of phone calls?

"Recently, for each phone contact with a patient,
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Contact: Rebecca Hughes
hughes.r@ghc.org
206-287-2055
Group Health Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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