Improving depression care in patients with diabetes and multiple complications

J Gen Intern Med. 2006 Oct;21(10):1036-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00552.x. Epub 2006 Jul 7.


Background: Depression is common in patients with diabetes, but it is often inadequately treated within primary care. Competing clinical demands and treatment resistance may make it especially difficult to improve depressive symptoms in patients with diabetes who have multiple complications.

Objective: To determine whether a collaborative care intervention for depression would be as effective in patients with diabetes who had 2 or more complications as in patients with diabetes who had fewer complications.

Design: The Pathways Study was a randomized control trial comparing collaborative care case management for depression and usual primary care. This secondary analysis compared outcomes in patients with 2 or more complications to patients with fewer complications.

Patients: Three hundred and twenty-nine patients with diabetes and comorbid depression were recruited through primary care clinics of a large prepaid health plan.

Measurements: Depression was assessed at baseline, 3, 6, and 12 months with the 20-item depression scale from the Hopkins Symptom Checklist. Diabetes complications were determined from automated patient records.

Results: The Pathways collaborative care intervention was significantly more successful at reducing depressive symptoms than usual primary care in patients with diabetes who had 2 or more complications. Patients with fewer than 2 complications experienced similar reductions in depressive symptoms in both intervention and usual care.

Conclusion: Patients with depression and diabetes who have multiple complications may benefit most from collaborative care for depression. These findings suggest that with appropriate intervention depression can be successfully treated in patients with diabetes who have the highest severity of medical problems.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Depressive Disorder / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales