German researchers report positive result from a new means to monitor depression managed by a primary care practice.

The method involves monthly phone calls to patients with depression by health care assistants.

The assistants are trained to ask structured questions designed to assess depression symptoms.

Results from the assessment are reported back to the primary care physician where an analysis can determine if a potential relapse has occurred or if support to prevent an exacerbation of depression is necessary.

“The practice team is then in a position to recognize and react to any deterioration immediately and last but not least prompt patients to self care,” said the principal investigator Dr. Jochen Gensichen.

In the trial, 626 patients with depression from 74 general practices in Germany were assessed. Among Germans, around 4 million people aged between 18 and 65 suffer from depression and for most of them one of the 50,000 primary care practices is their first and principal port of call.

The research is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: Goethe University Frankfurt