Depression lessened for heart disease patients with collaborative program

A hospital-initiated collaborative care program to treat depression, a common condition among cardiovascular disease patients, helped those patients show improvement with their depression, anxiety, and emotional quality of life after six and 12 weeks of implementation, researchers report in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

The collaborative care depression management programs at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston used a non-physician care manager to coordinate depression evaluation and treatment among the patient, a primary medical physicians, and a psychiatrist.

Collaborative care depression-management programs have been used in outpatient settings, but such a program had not been initiated in a hospital or used for patients with a variety of cardiac illnesses, said Jeff Huffman, MD, the study's lead author and director of the hospital's Cardiac Psychiatry Research Program.

Six weeks after leaving the hospital, almost twice as many of the collaborative care patients reported their depression symptoms were cut by half or more--compared with those receiving usual care (59.7 percent vs. 33.7 percent). The differences at 12 weeks also showed improvement with 51.5 percent of collaborative care patients indicating lessened depression responses versus 34.4 percent for patients receiving the usual care.

While rehospitalization rates among the patients studied were similar, the collaborative care patients reported fewer and less severe cardiac symptoms--and better adherence to healthy activities such as diet and exercise at six months compared with the usual care group.

"These improvements are relevant medical outcomes in themselves, and suggest this type of program may have broad effects on overall health," Huffman said.

For more details:
- see the study abstract
- read about the program description