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Int J Integr Care. 2010 Nov 23;10:e62.

Integrating care for people with depression: developments in the Netherlands.

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MSc, Senior Researcher Integrated Mental Health Care, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, Division Public Health, Utrecht University, Room: Str. 6.131, PO Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands.



In this article we describe the history and present state of integrated care for people with depression in the Netherlands. The central question is: what are the developments in integrated care for people with depression in the Netherlands?


WE DESCRIBE THESE DEVELOPMENTS FROM THE ROLE OF AN OBSERVER, AND MAKE USE OF SEVERAL SOURCES: important Dutch policy documents and research documents, our own national survey carried out in 2007, a number of reports and project descriptions and searches in PubMed and Google. Also key people were contacted to supply additional information.


In the Netherlands two separate phases can be distinguished within integrated care for people with depression. From the beginning of the 1990s, specialized secondary Mental Health Care (MHC) began to develop care programmes, including programmes for people with depression. The implementation of these care programmes has taken years. Mass usage of care programmes only went ahead once the large-scale mergers between ambulatory and clinical MHC organizations around 2000 had taken effect. An analysis of these programmes shows, that they did not lead to integration with primary care. This changed in the second phase from around 2000. Then attention was directed more towards strengthening the GP within the treatment of depression, collaboration between primary and specialized care and the development of collective integrated care packages.


We relate these developments to projects in other countries and discuss the scientific basis by using evidence of international literature reviews and metastudies. Some general recommendations are given about functional costing, the physical presence of MHC specialists in the primary care sector and the use of a common national standard for both primary care and specialized MHC.


collaborative care; depression; history; integrated care; mental health care; multidisciplinary cooperation; primary care; quality criteria

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