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Team treatment for depression cuts medical costs
Date:2/6/2008

A team approach to treating depression in older adults, already shown to improve health, can also cut total health-care costs, according to a new study led by the University of Washington. The study appears in the February issue of the American Journal of Managed Care.

Clinical depression affects about 3 million older adults in the United States and is associated with 50 to 70 percent higher health-care expenses, mostly due to an increased use of medical, not mental health, services. In this study, researchers found that adults over 60 who received a year of team care for depression had lower average costs for all of their health care over a four-year period -- about $3,300 less than patients receiving traditional care, even when the cost of the team care treatment is included.

Over the past several years, a multi-center research team has been studying a team care approach called IMPACT (Improving Mood Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment for Late Life Depression). The treatment model features a nurse, social worker or psychologist serving as a depression-care manager. This depression-care manager works with the primary care physician and a consulting psychiatrist to care for depressed patients in their primary care clinic.

Previous studies have shown that the IMPACT program provides powerful health benefits, including significantly decreased depression and chronic physical pain, improved physical functioning and better overall quality of life. In this cost evaluation study, 551 IMPACT participants from two large health-care organizations, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound and Kaiser Permanente of Southern California, were followed for four years to examine long-term effects of team care on medical costs.

Study participants assigned to the IMPACT program saw significantly lower total health care costs over four years than patients receiving standard care, and our research shows that this difference was almost certainly due to th
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Contact: Justin Reedy
jreedy@u.washington.edu
206-685-0382
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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