Recent research suggests that the US approach to treating depression could be successfully replicated in the UK, as such NICE is to consider adopting it.
In the UK most patients with depression are treated within primary care, with barriers existing between GPs and specialist mental health services. The US, however, treat depression using a collaborative care method involving the use of care managers who liaise between GPs and mental health specialists. As a result, patients with depression in the US have access to a team of specialists.
Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School, who carried out the study report that collaborative care led to improvement of depression symptoms immediately after treatment. Furthermore, 15 per cent more patients continued to show signs of improvement after 12 months of collaborative care compared with those who saw their GP.
"This is one of the largest studies of collaborative care internationally, and demonstrates that it is as effective in the UK as it is in the US, and could reliably be imported. Importantly, patients also told us that they preferred the approach to their usual care"
Lead researcher Professor David Richards
The study was carried out in response to a plea for evidence from NICE.
"We welcome the findings of this study on the use of collaborative care for depression in a UK setting. When NICE last looked at the evidence for treating depression, there was insufficient data to recommend the collaborative model of care."
Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE
NICE will be looking closely at the findings from this study when its depression guideline next comes up for review.