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Treatment Programs Benefit Depressed Workers
Date:9/25/2007

Study found significant improvement in symptoms and productivity

TUESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Employees struggling with depression who participated in a workplace program that used a care manager to guide them through treatment saw an improvement in their symptoms as well as greater productivity.

The authors of the study, which is published in the Sept. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, are hoping the findings will spur employers to view health-care benefits in a different and more positive light.

"Usually, health-care benefits are viewed by the people who purchase them -- employers -- as just a cost. They assume that whatever cost they spend on workers' health, they won't see anything back," said Dr. Philip S. Wang, lead author of the study and director of the division of services and intervention research at the National Institute of Mental Health.

"One of the implications of our findings is that employers-purchasers would actually see a return on their investment and may be better able to conceive of benefits to workers, particularly vis-a-vis depression, as kind of an opportunity. You put something in, and you will get something back. This is a different model from how employers view mental-health care and health care in general."

Dr. Ewald Horwath, professor of psychiatry, epidemiology and public health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, called the study finding "extremely significant, because it demonstrates that an intervention which improved access to care for depression not only improves outcome for depression but also work performance.

"What is not sometimes recognized is that depression is the second leading cause of disability throughout the world," Horwath said. "A study showing it can improve outcome in terms of work productivity and attendance is enormously important in terms of relieving people's suffering and potent
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