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Organized phone therapy for depression found cost-effective
Date:10/9/2009

  • Phone care management: usual care plus a phone-based care-management program including three outreach calls from a bachelors-level clinician (assessing patients' symptoms, antidepressant drug use, and side effects and referring to mental health specialty care if needed), with care coordination and feedback to the primary care doctor
  • Phone psychotherapy: usual care, plus phone care management, plus eight 30-40 minute sessions of structured cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy delivered by phone by a masters-level mental health clinician

    The trial excluded people who were already seeing a therapist or intending to do so. The patients and mental health clinicians never met face to face, only over the phone. The mental health clinicians followed a structured protocol for psychotherapy. They encouraged the patients to identify and counter their negative thoughts (cognitive behavioral therapy), pursue activities they had enjoyed in the past (behavioral activation), and develop a plan to care for themselves.

    Few of the patients who received phone-based therapyeven fewer than those who did not receive itsought in-person therapy. Phone-based therapy is more convenient and acceptable to patients than in-person psychotherapy, said Dr. Simon.

    Depression symptoms, including feeling discouraged and avoiding other people, can prevent people from seeking help, he added. Nationally, only about half of insured patients receiving depression treatment make any psychotherapy visit, and less than a third make four or more visits. By contrast, in this trial, three in four patients completed at least six phone therapy sessions.


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  • Contact: Rebecca Hughes
    hughes.r@ghc.org
    206-287-2055
    Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies
    Source:Eurekalert  

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