Depression self-management assistance using automated telephonic assessments and social support

Am J Manag Care. 2013 Nov;19(11):892-900.


Objective: To understand patient participation in interactive voice response (IVR) depression monitoring and self-management support calls and estimate the workload from clinical alerts based on patients' IVR reports.

Study design: Observational study from program implementation in 13 community- and university-based primary care practices.

Methods: Patients with depression were identified using electronic records and enrolled by telephone. Patients were asked to complete IVR assessments weekly; those with significantly improved symptoms had the option of completing assessments monthly. Patients could enroll with an informal caregiver who received automated feedback based on patients' IVR reports. Clinicians received alerts regarding significant changes in the scores on the Patient Health Questionnaire 9-item depression measure, antidepressant adherence problems, or suicidal ideation.

Results: A total of 387 patients were followed for 12,042 weeks. More than half (59%) opted to participate with a caregiver. Patients completed 68% of 7912 attempted IVR assessments. Assessment completion was unrelated to patients' depressive symptoms and was higher among those who participated with a caregiver, were married, had more comorbidities, or reported missing a prior appointment. Assessment completion was lower when patients received monthly versus weekly assessment attempts. Clinical alerts were generated during 4.9% of follow-up weeks; most represented medication adherence problems (2.8%). Alerts indicating suicidal ideation were rare (0.2% of patient-weeks).

Conclusions: IVR support calls represent a viable strategy for increasing access to depression monitoring and self-management assistance in primary care. These programs generate a manageable number of alerts, most of which can be triaged with limited physician involvement.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care
  • Self Care*
  • Social Support*
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Telephone
  • Young Adult