Background: Effectiveness studies have tested interventions to improve quality of care for depression in primary care, but none, to our knowledge, have been completed for panic disorder (PD) in this setting. This study sought to test the clinical effectiveness of PD pharmacotherapy embedded in a disease management framework of "collaborative care" (CC).
Methods: One hundred fifteen patients with PD from 3 primary care clinics were randomized to CC or "usual care" (UC). Patients in CC (n = 57) received educational videotapes and pamphlets; pharmacotherapy with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor paroxetine; 2 psychiatrist visits and 2 telephone calls in the first 8 weeks; and up to 5 telephone calls between 3 and 12 months' follow-up. Usual care patients (n = 58) were treated by their primary care physician. Telephone assessments of panic, anxiety sensitivity, depression, and disability variables were performed at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months' follow-up. Adequacy of pharmacotherapy was assessed with an algorithm based on a review of efficacy studies.
Results: Patients in CC were more likely to receive adequate (type, dose, duration) medication and more likely to adhere to this medication at 3 and 6 months. Random regression analyses showed that CC patients improved significantly more over time compared with UC patients on anxiety, depression, and disability measures, with the greatest effects at 3 and 6 months.
Conclusions: Compared with UC, CC interventions significantly improved both quality of care and clinical and functional outcomes in primary care PD patients. Clinical differences were greatest in the first 6 months, corresponding to the greater quality of care and the greater intensity of intervention.