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Collaborative Care for the Treatment of Depression in Primary Care With a Low-Income, Spanish-Speaking Population: Outcomes From a Community-Based Program Evaluation

Katherine Sanchez, LCSW, PhD; and Toni Terling Watt, PhD

ABSTRACT

Objective: This study sought to (1) evaluate the effectiveness of a collaborative care model with a predominantly Hispanic, low-income population in a primary care setting and (2) examine depression outcomes with a subpopulation of preferentially Spanish-speaking patients compared with non-Hispanic white participants.

Method: The data were collected from September 2006 through September 2009 at the study site, the People’s Community Clinic, Austin, Texas. Data collection was part of an evaluation of the Integrated Behavioral Health program, a collaborative care model of identifying and treating mild-to-moderate mental disorders in adults in a primary care setting. A bilingual care manager provided supportive counseling and patient education and systematically tracked patient progress in a patient registry. A consulting psychiatrist evaluated patients with diagnostic or treatment concerns. The study retrospectively examined changes in depression scores among 269 subjects as measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), the primary outcome measure. The PHQ-9 is a self-report of frequency of symptoms for each of the 9 DSM-IV criteria for depression. Logistic regression models compared race/ethnicity and language group combinations on their odds of achieving clinically meaningful depression improvement when background characteristics were controlled for.

Results: Spanish-speaking Hispanic patients had significantly greater odds of achieving a clinically meaningful improvement in depression at 3-month follow-up (odds ratio [OR] = 2.45, P = .013) compared to non-Hispanic whites. The finding for greater improvement in the Spanish-speaking population remained after controlling for age, sex, medical comorbidities, prior treatment, and baseline depression scores.

Conclusions: The results suggest a model of care that is effective for a population at great risk for marginal mental health care, non–English-speaking Hispanics. Attention to patient preferences in primary care is essential to improve quality of depression treatment and may improve outcomes. In light of previous research that demonstrates insufficient evidence-based guidelines for patients with limited English proficiency and evidence that evaluation of patients in their nonprimary language or through an interpreter can lead to inaccurate mental health assessments, this study suggests an opportunity to improve the quality of mental health care for non–English-speaking Hispanics in the United States.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2012;14(6):doi:10.4088/PCC.12m01385

Submitted: March 28, 2012; accepted June 13, 2012.

Published online: December 6, 2012.

Corresponding author: Katherine Sanchez, LCSW, PhD, School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Arlington, 211 S Cooper St, Arlington, TX 76019 (KSanchez@uta.edu).