Background: Depression is a common and potentially disabling condition, yet many patients remain undiagnosed, and many more fail to receive adequate treatment. To address this gap, clinicians must routinely evaluate patient care practices. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a three-stage performance improvement (PI) continuing medical education (CME) initiative to strengthen evidence-based psychiatric practices for the screening and management of patients with depression.
Methods: A total of 492 physician participants voluntarily registered to complete a three-stage initiative consisting of self-evaluation, improvement, and reevaluation. Participants were recruited through a series of faxes, e-mails, and direct-mail invitations.
Results: Approximately 20% (n=86) of the registrants completed the three-stage initiative. Completers provided chart data on 2,122 patients encountered before and 2,130 patients encountered after engaging in the PI CME activity. Large gains were made in the percentage of patients screened using standardized criteria to assess depression status, particularly the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) and the PHQ-9 (26% of 1,378 patients at Stage A vs.68% of 1,711 patients at Stage C; p<0.001). Physicians were also more likely to rescreen patients 4 to 8 weeks after initial screening (48% of 1,961 patients at Stage A vs. 75% of 2,028 patients at Stage C; p<0.001) and to assess patient adherence to antidepressants using standardized measures (10% of 1,909 patients at Stage A vs. 45% of 1,740 patients at Stage C; p<0.001).
Conclusions: PI CME provides insight into and aids in improving evidence-based patient care in psychiatric practices.