Background: Several studies document disparities in access to care and quality of care for depression for African Americans. Research suggests that patient attitudes and clinician communication behaviors may contribute to these disparities. Evidence links patient-centered care to improvements in mental health outcomes; therefore, quality improvement interventions that enhance this dimension of care are promising strategies to improve treatment and outcomes of depression among African Americans. This paper describes the design of the BRIDGE (Blacks Receiving Interventions for Depression and Gaining Empowerment) Study. The goal of the study is to compare the effectiveness of two interventions for African-American patients with depression--a standard quality improvement program and a patient-centered quality improvement program. The main hypothesis is that patients in the patient-centered group will have a greater reduction in their depression symptoms, higher rates of depression remission, and greater improvements in mental health functioning at six, twelve, and eighteen months than patients in the standard group. The study also examines patient ratings of care and receipt of guideline-concordant treatment for depression.
Methods/design: A total of 36 primary care clinicians and 132 of their African-American patients with major depressive disorder were recruited into a cluster randomized trial. The study uses intent-to-treat analyses to compare the effectiveness of standard quality improvement interventions (academic detailing about depression guidelines for clinicians and disease-oriented care management for their patients) and patient-centered quality improvement interventions (communication skills training to enhance participatory decision-making for clinicians and care management focused on explanatory models, socio-cultural barriers, and treatment preferences for their patients) for improving outcomes over 12 months of follow-up.
Discussion: The BRIDGE Study includes clinicians and African-American patients in under-resourced community-based practices who have not been well-represented in clinical trials to improve depression care. The patient-centered and culturally targeted approach to depression care is a relatively new one that has not been tested in most previous studies. The study will provide evidence about whether patient-centered accommodations improve quality of care and outcomes to a greater extent than standard quality improvement strategies for African Americans with depression.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00243425.