Limited effect of screening for depression with written feedback in outpatients with diabetes mellitus: a randomised controlled trial

Diabetologia. 2011 Apr;54(4):741-8. doi: 10.1007/s00125-010-2033-0. Epub 2011 Jan 11.


Aims/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of a screening procedure for depression (SCR) vs care as usual (CAU) in outpatients with diabetes. The primary outcome measured was depression score and the secondary outcomes were mental healthcare consumption, diabetes-distress and HbA(1c).

Materials and methods: In a multicentre parallel randomised controlled trial, 223 outpatients with diabetes, who had an elevated depression score, were randomly assigned to SCR (n = 116) or CAU (n = 107), using computer generated numbers. SCR-patients were invited for a Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) to diagnose depression and/or anxiety (interviewers were not blinded for group assignment). As part of the intervention, patients and their physicians were informed of the outcome of the CIDI in a letter and provided with treatment advice. At baseline and 6 month follow-up, depression and diabetes-distress were measured using the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Problem Areas in Diabetes survey (PAID). HbA(1c) levels were obtained from medical charts.

Results: Mean CES-D depression scores decreased from baseline to 6 months in both groups (24 ± 8 to 21 ± 8 [CAU] and 26 ± 7 to 22 ± 10 [SCR] respectively [p < 0.001]), with no significant differences between groups. Neither diabetes-distress nor HbA(1c) changed significantly within and between groups. The percentage of patients receiving mental healthcare increased in the SCR group from 20% to 28%, compared with 15% to 18% in the CAU group.

Conclusions/interpretation: Depression screening with written feedback to patient and physician does not improve depression scores and has a limited impact on mental healthcare utilisation, compared with CAU. It appears that more intensive depression management is required to improve depression outcomes in patients with diabetes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Feedback*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients
  • Writing*