Depression and Anxiety Screening and Triage Protocol for Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs

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Abstract

Purpose:

Best practice guidelines for cardiac rehabilitation (CR) suggest routine screening for anxiety and depression, yet many patients are not screened nor do they receive mental health treatment. Protocols are required to identify those in need of care and to ensure that appropriate assistance is provided.

Methods:

Consecutive patients entering CR in our setting from May 4, 2012, to May 3, 2013, completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). As per our Screening and Triage protocol for Anxiety and Depression (STAD), patients with high scores (≥16) were referred to a clinical psychologist; those with low scores (<8 for depression and <11 for anxiety) received information about community resources. Patients with moderate scores were reassessed 4 weeks later before triaging to psychosocial services. High, moderate, and low scores were triaged to a clinical psychologist, social worker, or were guided to community resources, respectively.

Results:

A total of 1504 patients (76% men) completed the HADS at intake; 287 (19%) had elevated depression and/or anxiety scores. Of these, 43 (15%) were referred to psychology services and 244 (85%) patients were referred for HADS readministration at 4 weeks. Scores following reassessment resulted in 6 referrals to psychology services (3%) and 62 to social work (36%), whereas 78 (45%) no longer needed care.

Conclusion:

Many cardiac patients experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. The STAD protocol using the HADS was an efficient method to screen for anxiety and depression and appropriately utilize psychosocial treatment resources in the cardiac rehabilitation setting.

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