A Telephone-Based Program to Provide Symptom Monitoring Alone vs Symptom Monitoring Plus Care Management for Late-Life Depression and Anxiety: A Randomized Clinical Trial

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Mental health (MH) conditions are undertreated in late life. It is important to identify treatment strategies that address variability in treatment content and delivery and take individual-specific symptoms into account, particularly among low-income, community-dwelling older adults.


To evaluate program feasibility and MH outcomes among community-dwelling older adults randomized to 1 of 2 treatment arms of varying intensity of evidence-based, collaborative MH care management services (ie, the Supporting Seniors Receiving Treatment and Intervention [SUSTAIN] program) that provide standardized, measurement-based, software-aided MH assessment and symptom monitoring and connection to community resources via telephone.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Trial participants were 1018 older, community-dwelling, low-income adults prescribed an antidepressant or anxiolytic by a primary care or non-MH professional and experiencing clinically significant MH symptoms at intake. The participant subsample was drawn from a larger parent sample of older adults enrolled in the SUSTAIN program. Individuals were randomized to receive MH symptom monitoring alone (hereafter monitoring alone) or MH symptom monitoring plus care management (hereafter care management) provided by an MH professional. Baseline characteristics were examined, and changes in clinical MH outcomes were evaluated at 3-month and 6-month follow-up. The study dates were August 5, 2010, to May 5, 2014.


Monitoring alone or care management delivered by an MH professional.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Overall MH functioning (primary) and depressive and anxiety symptoms.


A total of 509 participants were randomized to the monitoring alone group and 509 to the care management group; 377 and 401 completed ≥2 research assessments in the monitoring alone and case management groups, respectively. Compared with those randomized to monitoring alone, individuals randomized to care management showed greater improvements in the 3 domains of MH functioning (β [SE], 0.36 [0.12]; 95% CI, 0.12 to 0.60; P = .004), depressive symptoms (β [SE], −0.20 [0.06]; 95% CI, −0.32 to −0.09; P < .001), and anxiety symptoms (β [SE], −0.23 [0.05]; 95% CI, −0.33 to −0.14; P < .001) over time.

Conclusions and Relevance

The SUSTAIN program, which provides assessment, monitoring, care management, and brief therapies for MH symptoms and needs in primary care settings, is feasible and scalable. A more intense level of care (ie, symptom monitoring plus care management) is associated with more favorable individual outcomes for low-income, community-dwelling older adults experiencing clinically significant MH symptoms.

Trial Registration

clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02440594

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