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Arch Fam Med. 2000 Aug;9(8):700-8.

Efficacy of nurse telehealth care and peer support in augmenting treatment of depression in primary care.

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  • 1Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland 94611-5463, USA. emh@dor.kaiser.org



Primary care treatment of depression needs improvement.


To evaluate the efficacy of 2 augmentations to antidepressant drug treatment.


Randomized trial comparing usual care, telehealth care, and telehealth care plus peer support; assessments were conducted at baseline, 6 weeks, and 6 months.


Two managed care adult primary care clinics.


A total of 302 patients starting antidepressant drug therapy.


For telehealth care: emotional support and focused behavioral interventions in ten 6-minute calls during 4 months by primary care nurses; and for peer support: telephone and in-person supportive contacts by trained health plan members recovered from depression.


For depression: the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory; and for mental and physical functioning: the SF-12 Mental and Physical Composite Scales and treatment satisfaction.


Nurse-based telehealth patients with or without peer support more often experienced 50% improvement on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale at 6 weeks (50% vs 37%; P =.01) and 6 months (57% vs 38%; P =.003) and on the Beck Depression Inventory at 6 months (48% vs 37%; P =. 05) and greater quantitative reduction in symptom scores on the Hamilton scale at 6 months (10.38 vs 8.12; P =.006). Telehealth care improved mental functioning at 6 weeks (47.07 vs 42.64; P =.004) and treatment satisfaction at 6 weeks (4.41 vs 4.17; P =.004) and 6 months (4.20 vs 3.94; P =.001). Adding peer support to telehealth care did not improve the primary outcomes.


Nurse telehealth care improves clinical outcomes of antidepressant drug treatment and patient satisfaction and fits well within busy primary care settings.

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