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Telephone Depression Intervention Helps After Cardiac Surgery

By November 27, 2009Commentary

Depression frequently accompanies a significant health problem and can arise after major surgical interventions.   Research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association examines an intervention called “Bypassing the Blues” that utilizes a team-based collaborative care model to help patients cope with depression following CABG surgery.   (JAMA Article)

The study compared a telephone intervention with usual care, and with a non-depressed group of patients.  In the intervention group, a case manager called the patients on a regular basis and assisted with self-care, pharmacotherapy or use of a mental health professional.  The intervention lasted a total of 8 months.  The intervention group showed significantly greater improvement in mood and other depression symptoms than did the usual care group.  The intervention group also reported a higher quality of life improvement.

Interestingly, the intervention group did not have fewer rehospitalizations than usual care and the researchers did not report other cost measures.  It appears, however, that this intervention was not likely to be cost-saving compared to usual care.  On the other hand, it appears to be an efficient intervention and therefore did not likely add a lot to costs.  It is noteworthy that this is primarily a telephone intervention.  That means it can be used for patients in rural and other areas where accessing assistance face-to-face may be difficult and likely has a scalability that keeps costs down.

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