Stepped care for depression in primary care: What should be offered and how?

Department of Clinical Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The Medical journal of Australia (Impact Factor: 4.09). 06/2010; 192(11 Suppl):S36-9.
Source: PubMed


Stepped-care approaches may offer a solution to delivering accessible, effective and efficient services for individuals with depression. In stepped care, all patients commence with a low-intensity, low-cost treatment. Treatment results are monitored systematically, and patients move to a higher-intensity treatment only if necessary. We deliver a stepped-care model targeting patients with depression. The first step consists of "watchful waiting", as half of all patients with a depressive episode recover spontaneously within 3 months. The second step, guided self-help, is the key element of the stepped-care model. Guided self-help, especially when offered through the internet, is effective and cost-efficient. The third step consists of brief face-to-face psychotherapy. Finally, in the fourth step, longer-term face-to-face psychotherapy and antidepressant medication might be considered. Patients are monitored by one person, a care manager, who is responsible for the decision to step up to the next treatment and for continuity of care. The different treatments within the stepped-care model are evidence-based. Data on cost-effectiveness of the full model are still scarce, but we recently demonstrated that the incidence of new cases of depression and anxiety could be halved by introducing stepped care. Effects of web-based guided self-help could be enhanced by incorporating them in a stepped-care model.

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    • "The key features of stepped-care models are starting with a low-intensity intervention, monitoring to establish treatment benefits or lack of response, and having the capability to step up to a higher intensity treatment (Seekles, van Straten, Beekman, van Marwijk, & Cuijpers, 2009). Van Straten, Seekles, Van't Veer-tazelaar, Beekman, and Cuijpers (2010) advise that minimal delay in progressing to the next level is important and have suggested that the duration of treatment per level is limited (6–12 weeks). The stepped-care models cited in published clinical practice guidelines generally take the form of level 1 being “watchful waiting”; level 2 is guided self-help plus or minus support to prevent patient drop-out; level 3 is face-to-face brief therapy; and level 4 is longer term therapy, medication or a combination of both (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: BackgroundFrom a global perspective, natural disasters are common events. Published research highlights that a significant minority of exposed children and adolescents develop disaster-related mental health syndromes and associated functional impairment. Consistent with the considerable unmet need of children and adolescents with regard to psychopathology, there is strong evidence that many children and adolescents with post-disaster mental health presentations are not receiving adequate interventions.ObjectiveTo critique existing child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) models of care and the capacity of such models to deal with any post-disaster surge in clinical demand. Further, to detail an innovative service response; a child and adolescent stepped-care service provision model.MethodA narrative review of traditional CAMHS is presented. Important elements of a disaster response – individual versus community recovery, public health approaches, capacity for promotion and prevention and service reach are discussed and compared with the CAMHS approach.ResultsDifficulties with traditional models of care are highlighted across all levels of intervention; from the ability to provide preventative initiatives to the capacity to provide intense specialised posttraumatic stress disorder interventions. In response, our over-arching stepped-care model is advocated. The general response is discussed and details of the three tiers of the model are provided: Tier 1 communication strategy, Tier 2 parent effectiveness and teacher training, and Tier 3 screening linked to trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy.ConclusionIn this paper, we argue that traditional CAMHS are not an appropriate model of care to meet the clinical needs of this group in the post-disaster setting. We conclude with suggestions how improved post-disaster child and adolescent mental health outcomes can be achieved by applying an innovative service approach.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · European Journal of Psychotraumatology
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    • "These interventions can be either guided by a professional or unguided, and are increasingly delivered over the internet. Clinical outcomes can be monitored and people can be provided with more intensive forms of treatment, or referred to specialized care, if the first-step intervention does not result in the desired outcome [102]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The use of positive psychological interventions may be considered as a complementary strategy in mental health promotion and treatment. The present article constitutes a meta-analytical study of the effectiveness of positive psychology interventions for the general public and for individuals with specific psychosocial problems. Methods We conducted a systematic literature search using PubMed, PsychInfo, the Cochrane register, and manual searches. Forty articles, describing 39 studies, totaling 6,139 participants, met the criteria for inclusion. The outcome measures used were subjective well-being, psychological well-being and depression. Positive psychology interventions included self-help interventions, group training and individual therapy. Results The standardized mean difference was 0.34 for subjective well-being, 0.20 for psychological well-being and 0.23 for depression indicating small effects for positive psychology interventions. At follow-up from three to six months, effect sizes are small, but still significant for subjective well-being and psychological well-being, indicating that effects are fairly sustainable. Heterogeneity was rather high, due to the wide diversity of the studies included. Several variables moderated the impact on depression: Interventions were more effective if they were of longer duration, if recruitment was conducted via referral or hospital, if interventions were delivered to people with certain psychosocial problems and on an individual basis, and if the study design was of low quality. Moreover, indications for publication bias were found, and the quality of the studies varied considerably. Conclusions The results of this meta-analysis show that positive psychology interventions can be effective in the enhancement of subjective well-being and psychological well-being, as well as in helping to reduce depressive symptoms. Additional high-quality peer-reviewed studies in diverse (clinical) populations are needed to strengthen the evidence-base for positive psychology interventions.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · BMC Public Health
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    • "Also, the generic character of the online PST makes it suitable to address different kinds of symptoms. This is useful because of the high prevalence of comorbidity in psychiatric disorders [3,13] and can therefore fit well into a stepped-care model in specialized or primary mental health care institutions [14]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Due to limited resources patients in the Netherlands often have to wait for a minimum of six weeks after registration for mental health care to receive their first treatment session. Offering guided online treatment might be an effective solution to reduce waiting time and to increase patient outcomes at relatively low cost. In this study we report on uptake, drop-out and effects of online problem solving treatment that was implemented in a mental health center. Methods We studied all 104 consecutive patients aged 18–65 years with elevated symptoms of depression, anxiety and/or burnout who registered at the center during the first six months after implementation. They were offered a five week guided online treatment. At baseline, five weeks and twelve weeks we measured depressive (BDI-II), anxiety (HADS-A) and burnout symptoms (MBI). Results A total of 55 patients (53%) agreed to start with the online treatment. Patients who accepted the online treatment were more often female, younger and lower educated than those who refused. There were no baseline differences in clinical symptoms between the groups. There were large between group effect sizes after five weeks for online treatment for depression (d = 0.94) and anxiety (d = 1.07), but not for burnout (d = −.07). At twelve weeks, when both groups had started regular face-to-face treatments, we no longer found significant differences between the groups, except for anxiety (d = 0.69). Conclusion The results of this study show that the majority of patients prefer online guided online treatment instead of waiting for face-to-face treatment. Furthermore, online PST increases speed of recovery and can therefore be offered as a first step of treatment in mental healthcare.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · BMC Psychiatry
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