Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Putting depression guidelines into practice

It's difficult to find time to ask about depressive symptoms in practice, and family physicians who want to make screening a priority must also ensure access to follow-up resources that improve patient outcomes. Recently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the AAFP both updated their clinical recommendations on screening adults for depression. Both organizations now recommend screening only "when staff-assisted depression care supports are in place to assure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and follow-up." The October 15th issue of AFP contains several valuable depression care resources, including a clinical review of postpartum major depression, an abridged version of the USPSTF statement, a case study and quiz questions on applying the USPSTF and AAFP recommendations in practice, and an editorial about the experience of the integrated delivery system MaineHealth in improving depression screening and care for its members.

Readers seeking to remodel their care management processes to be consistent with the latest depression guidelines will find the editorial to be a good start. In addition, AFP and its sister publication, Family Practice Management, offer helpful online content on proven staff-assisted depression care supports, including validated screening tools, patient registries, and communication strategies to encourage self-management. Finally, you can find links to these resources and more in the AFP By Topic collection on depression and bipolar disorder.