Objective: The objective of this study was to test the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary clinical outcomes of a method to leverage existing home healthcare telemonitoring technology to deliver depression care management (DCM) to both Spanish- and English-speaking elderly homebound recipients of homecare services.
Materials and methods: Three stand-alone, nonprofit community homecare agencies located in New York, Vermont, and Miami participated in this study. Evidence-based DCM was adapted to the telemonitor platform by programming questions and educational information on depression symptoms, antidepressant adherence, and side effects. Recruited patients participated for a minimum of 3 weeks. Telehealth nurses were trained on DCM and received biweekly supervision. On-site trained research assistants conducted in-home research interviews on depression diagnosis and severity and patient satisfaction with the protocol.
Results: An ethnically diverse sample of 48 English- and Spanish-only-speaking patients participated, along with seven telehealth nurses. Both patients and telehealth nurses reported high levels of protocol acceptance. Among 19 patients meeting diagnostic criteria for major depression, the mean depression severity was in the "markedly severe" range at baseline and in the "mild" range at follow-up.
Conclusions: Results of this pilot support the feasibility of using homecare's existing telemonitoring technology to deliver DCM to their elderly homebound patients. This was true for both English- and Spanish-speaking patients. Preliminary clinical outcomes suggest improvement in depression severity, although these findings require testing in a randomized clinical trial. Implications for the science and service of telehealth-based depression care for elderly patients are discussed.