Depression Screening in a Primary Care Practice in Oregon

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Depression is a serious and common mental illness in primary care. Regardless of the improvements in depression management, depression in many patients is still unrecognized. Routine screening for depression among adults in primary care is recommended by the U.S Preventive Service Task Force, as long as healthcare organizations are equipped with staff-assisted depression support systems. The purpose of this dissemination pilot project was to evaluate the routine use of the PHQ-9, a depression screening tool, among adult patients presenting for annual health maintenance examinations. Additionally, increasing follow-up visits among patients with positive depression screens was also investigated. The three-week practice quality improvement project was successful in implementing a routine depression screening policy. Among patients scheduled for their annual health maintenance examination, 94% were screened for depression. All patients who self-identified as at risk for depression were screened with the PHQ-9. Among patients with positive screens, the majority were invited for follow-up care during the study. As a result of the pilot, this clinic now exclusively uses the PHQ-9 depression screening tool. Furthermore, they modified their annual health maintenance examination policy to include routine screening for depression.

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