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A Computerized Decision Support System for Depression in Primary Care

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2009;11(4):140-146
10.4088/PCC.08m00687

Objectives: In 2004, results from The Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) showed better clinical outcomes for patients whose physicians adhered to a paper-and-pencil algorithm compared to patients who received standard clinical treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD). However, implementation of and fidelity to the treatment algorithm among various providers was observed to be inadequate. A computerized decision support system (CDSS) for the implementation of the TMAP algorithm for depression has since been developed to improve fidelity and adherence to the algorithm.

Method: This was a 2-group, parallel design, clinical trial (one patient group receiving MDD treatment from physicians using the CDSS and the other patient group receiving usual care) conducted at 2 separate primary care clinics in Texas from March 2005 through June 2006. Fifty-five patients with MDD (DSM-IV criteria) with no significant difference in disease characteristics were enrolled, 32 of whom were treated by physicians using CDSS and 23 were treated by physicians using usual care. The study's objective was to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of implementing a CDSS to assist physicians acutely treating patients with MDD compared to usual care in primary care. Primary efficacy outcomes for depression symptom severity were based on the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS17) evaluated by an independent rater.

Results: Patients treated by physicians employing CDSS had significantly greater symptom reduction, based on the HDRS17, than patients treated with usual care (P

Conclusions: The CDSS algorithm, utilizing measurement-based care, was superior to usual care for patients with MDD in primary care settings. Larger randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these findings.

Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00551083