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'Collaborative' healthcare better for depression patients

Collaborative care could reduce relapses in people with depression, researchers have found. 

The US model of treating depression through a network of specialists could work in the UK, a study published in BMJ claims. 

The system leads to improved depression symptoms and 15% more patients were still improved after a year, compared with those who just saw a GP. 

In the UK, 85-95% of depression cases are treated through general practice, but researchers led by the University of Exeter Medical School believe that this created barriers between general and specialist health professionals, (such as mental health nurses) with limited specialist support for patients. 

Collaborative care involves a structured management plan with regular follow-ups and better communication between health professionals. 

A care manager is appointed to act under the supervision of a specialist and liaise between GPs and mental health specialists. 

Lead author Professor David Richards said: “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.” 

NICE had previously asked for more evidence on the approach, and will decide how to take it forward. 

Clinical effectiveness of collaborative care for depression in UK primary care (CADET): cluster randomised controlled triais available to view on the BMJ website.