Objective: This study aimed to explore the longitudinal, 6-month symptom course of older adults newly started on an antidepressant or anxiolytic by non-psychiatrist physicians and enrolled in a care management program.
Method: This is a naturalistic cohort study of older adults (age ≥65 years) receiving pharmacotherapy and telephone-based care management. Participants are non-institutionalized adults participating in Pennsylvania's Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly who completed telephone-based clinical assessments including demographic data, self-report on history of psychiatric treatment and adherence, and standardized symptom scales.
Results: A total of 162 participants with an average age of 77.2 years (SD 6.8) were followed and, for analysis, split into two groups by PHQ-9 score: 75 (46.3%) scoring 0-4 (minimally symptomatic group, MSG) and 87 (53.7%) scoring ≥5 (symptomatic group, SG). Over 6 months, the SG improved with PHQ-9 scores beginning on average at 10.0 (SD 4.6) and falling to 5.4 (SD 4.2) (F(1, 86) = 29.53, p < 0.0001). The MSG had no significant change in depressive symptoms. Emotional health as measured by SF-12 Mental Composite Score mirrored the PHQ-9 change and lack thereof in the SG and MSG, respectively. No clinical or demographic features were associated with symptom improvement in the SG although they were more likely to report medication adherence (66.7% vs. 44.0%, χ(2) (1) = 8.4, p = 0.0037) compared with the MSG.
Conclusions: Participation of symptomatic older adults initiated on psychotropic medication in a telephone-based care management program was associated with improvement in depressive symptoms and overall emotional well-being, notable findings given participants' advanced age, state-wide distribution, and history of limited utilization of mental health care.
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.