Practice-based depression case management in primary care: a qualitative study on family doctors' perspectives

Fam Pract. 2011 Oct;28(5):565-71. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmr014. Epub 2011 Mar 31.


Background: Case management provided by health care assistants (HCAs) is effective in improving primary care for depressive patients. Little is known on the implementation-related aspects of case management performed in small family practices.

Objective: To explore family doctors' perspectives on clinical and organizational aspects of implementation of case management and perceived practice-related aspects associated with patient care after 1 year's experience of HCAs providing case management for depressive patients in their practices.

Methods: This qualitative study was nested in a cluster-randomized trial on case management provided by practice-based HCAs for patients with major depression in Germany. We used semi-structured interview guides and performed audio-taped interviews with family doctors. Full transcription and thematic content analysis were carried out.

Results: Twenty-three family doctors were interviewed. The family doctors perceived case management as beneficial to patients and reported that it improved their consultation styles and doctor-patient relationships. They implemented case management elements into their everyday day work using 'concrete', 'subsumed' or 'progressive' implementation styles.

Conclusions: Family doctors perceived practice-based case management by HCAs as beneficial for patient care. Different implementation styles may be appropriate, depending on the health care setting, and this requires further evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Case Management / organization & administration*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician Assistants / organization & administration*
  • Physician's Role
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*