Stepped care for depression in primary care: what should be offered and how

A. van Straten, W.M. Seekles, P.J. van 't Veer-Tazelaar, A.T.F. Beekman, P. Cuijpers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

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Stepped-care approaches may offer a solution to delivering accessible, effective and efficient services for individuals with depression.
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In stepped care, all patients commence with a low-intensity, low-cost treatment. Treatment results are monitored systematically, and patients move to a higher-intensity treatment only if necessary.
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We deliver a stepped-care model targeting patients with depression.
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The first step consists of “watchful waiting”, as half of all patients with a depressive episode recover spontaneously within 3 months.
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The second step, guided self-help, is the key element of the stepped-care model. Guided self-help, especially when offered through the internet, is effective and cost-efficient.
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The third step consists of brief face-to-face psychotherapy.
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Finally, in the fourth step, longer-term face-to-face psychotherapy and antidepressant medication might be considered.
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Patients are monitored by one person, a care manager, who is responsible for the decision to step up to the next treatment and for continuity of care.
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The different treatments within the stepped-care model are evidence-based. Data on cost-effectiveness of the full model are still scarce, but we recently demonstrated that the incidence of new cases of depression and anxiety could be halved by introducing stepped care.
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Effects of web-based guided self-help could be enhanced by incorporating them in a stepped-care model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S36-S39
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Volume192
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Cite this

van Straten, A., Seekles, W. M., van 't Veer-Tazelaar, P. J., Beekman, A. T. F., & Cuijpers, P. (2010). Stepped care for depression in primary care: what should be offered and how. Medical Journal of Australia, 192(11), S36-S39.