Concurrent treatment of patients with depression in the community: provider practices, attitudes, and barriers to collaboration

J Fam Pract. 1999 Mar;48(3):180-7.


Background: In randomized controlled trials, patients with major depression who receive broad-based collaborative treatment by both primary care physicians (PCPs) and mental health providers (MHPs) have better outcomes than patients who receive usual care. However, little is known about the concurrent treatment of patients with depression in the community. This study describes the perceptions of PCPs of the frequency of concurrent treatment in community settings, the degree of collaboration between co-treating providers, and factors associated with greater interaction and collaboration.

Methods: A survey was distributed to a stratified, random sample of 276 eligible family physicians in Michigan. Primary analyses were descriptive statistics (point estimation) of PCP practice patterns. Secondary analyses explored predictors of collaboration with multivariable regression.

Results: A total of 162 eligible PCPs (59%) returned the survey. PCPs reported that they co-treated approximately 30% of their depressed patients with MHPs. They made contact with co-treating MHPs in approximately 50% of shared cases; however, provider contact seldom included joint treatment planning. PCPs perceived collaborative treatments to be more problematic when patients were enrolled in managed care programs. In multivariable regression, co-location of MHP and PCP practices (in the same building) was strongly associated with increased interaction and collaboration (P <.001).

Conclusions: Concurrent treatment of depressed patients is common in the community, but these treatments are less interactive and collaborative than the treatment models proven effective in randomized controlled trails. If concurrent treatments are to become more collaborative-with regular contact and effective communication-co-location of practices appears important.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Community Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Family Practice / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Managed Care Programs
  • Michigan
  • Physicians, Family / organization & administration
  • Physicians, Family / psychology
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology, Clinical
  • Social Work