Background: Collaborative-care management is an evidence-based practice for improving depression outcomes in primary care. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has mandated the implementation of collaborative-care management in its satellite clinics, known as Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs). However, the organizational characteristics of CBOCs present added challenges to implementation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI) as a strategy to facilitate the adoption of collaborative-care management in CBOCs.
Methods: This nonrandomized, small-scale, multisite evaluation of EBQI was conducted at three VA Medical Centers and 11 of their affiliated CBOCs. The Plan phase of the EBQI process involved the localized tailoring of the collaborative-care management program to each CBOC. Researchers ensured that the adaptations were evidence based. Clinical and administrative staff were responsible for adapting the collaborative-care management program for local needs, priorities, preferences and resources. Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles were used to refine the program over time. The evaluation was based on the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance) Framework and used data from multiple sources: administrative records, web-based decision-support systems, surveys, and key-informant interviews.
Results: Adoption: 69.0% (58/84) of primary care providers referred patients to the program. Reach: 9.0% (298/3,296) of primary care patients diagnosed with depression who were not already receiving specialty care were enrolled in the program. Fidelity: During baseline care manager encounters, education/activation was provided to 100% (298/298) of patients, barriers were assessed and addressed for 100% (298/298) of patients, and depression severity was monitored for 100% (298/298) of patients. Less than half (42.5%, 681/1603) of follow-up encounters during the acute stage were completed within the timeframe specified. During the acute phase of treatment for all trials, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ9) symptom-monitoring tool was used at 100% (681/681) of completed follow-up encounters, and self-management goals were discussed during 15.3% (104/681) of completed follow-up encounters. During the acute phase of treatment for pharmacotherapy and combination trials, medication adherence was assessed at 99.1% (575/580) of completed follow-up encounters, and side effects were assessed at 92.4% (536/580) of completed follow-up encounters. During the acute phase of treatment for psychotherapy and combination trials, counseling session adherence was assessed at 83.3% (239/287) of completed follow-up encounters. Effectiveness: 18.8% (56/298) of enrolled patients remitted (symptom free) and another 22.1% (66/298) responded to treatment (50% reduction in symptom severity). Maintenance: 91.9% (10/11) of the CBOCs chose to sustain the program after research funds were withdrawn.
Conclusions: Provider adoption was good, although reach into the target population was relatively low. Fidelity and maintenance were excellent, and clinical outcomes were comparable to those in randomized controlled trials. Despite the organizational barriers, these findings suggest that EBQI is an effective facilitation strategy for CBOCs.
Trial registration: Clinical trial # NCT00317018.