[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
Original Contribution
August 25, 2004

Telephone Psychotherapy and Telephone Care Management for Primary Care Patients Starting Antidepressant Treatment: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Wash.

JAMA. 2004;292(8):935-942. doi:10.1001/jama.292.8.935

Context Both antidepressant medication and structured psychotherapy have been proven efficacious, but less than one third of people with depressive disorders receive effective levels of either treatment.

Objective To compare usual primary care for depression with 2 intervention programs: telephone care management and telephone care management plus telephone psychotherapy.

Design Three-group randomized controlled trial with allocation concealment and blinded outcome assessment conducted between November 2000 and May 2002.

Setting and Participants A total of 600 patients beginning antidepressant treatment for depression were systematically sampled from 7 group-model primary care clinics; patients already receiving psychotherapy were excluded.

Interventions Usual primary care; usual care plus a telephone care management program including at least 3 outreach calls, feedback to the treating physician, and care coordination; usual care plus care management integrated with a structured 8-session cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy program delivered by telephone.

Main Outcome Measures Blinded telephone interviews at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months assessed depression severity (Hopkins Symptom Checklist Depression Scale and the Patient Health Questionnaire), patient-rated improvement, and satisfaction with treatment. Computerized administrative data examined use of antidepressant medication and outpatient visits.

Results Treatment participation rates were 97% for telephone care management and 93% for telephone care management plus psychotherapy. Compared with usual care, the telephone psychotherapy intervention led to lower mean Hopkins Symptom Checklist Depression Scale depression scores (P = .02), a higher proportion of patients reporting that depression was "much improved" (80% vs 55%, P<.001), and a higher proportion of patients "very satisfied" with depression treatment (59% vs 29%, P<.001). The telephone care management program had smaller effects on patient-rated improvement (66% vs 55%, P = .04) and satisfaction (47% vs 29%, P = .001); effects on mean depression scores were not statistically significant.

Conclusions For primary care patients beginning antidepressant treatment, a telephone program integrating care management and structured cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy can significantly improve satisfaction and clinical outcomes. These findings suggest a new public health model of psychotherapy for depression including active outreach and vigorous efforts to improve access to and motivation for treatment.