Integrated care pathway for co-occurring major depressive and alcohol use disorders: Outcomes of the first two years

Am J Addict. 2017 Sep;26(6):602-609. doi: 10.1111/ajad.12572. Epub 2017 Jun 1.


Background: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) are highly prevalent, comorbid, and have significant impact on morbidity, mortality, and socioeconomic burden in Canada. Combined psycho- and pharmacotherapies for both conditions promise better outcomes than treatment as usual (TAU). At the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada, we developed and implemented an Integrated Care Pathway (ICP) specifically for treatment of concurrent MDD and AUD. The goal of the study is to assess the clinical effectiveness of the ICP approach in comparison to TAU.

Materials and methods: Non-randomized design, clinical chart review, Chi-square and t-tests, Cohen's d, Linear Mixed Effects Models, Kaplan-Meier, and log-rank analyses.

Results: Eighty-one ICP patients were included, matched to 81 controls by age, sex, severity of depressive symptoms, and patterns of drinking. ICP cohort had a significantly lower dropout rate (18.5% vs 69.1%, p < .001; at 16 weeks of treatment, respectively), both cohorts demonstrated significant reduction in the number of heavy drinking days (β = .01, p < .001) and standard drinks per week (β = .15, p < .001) with a significantly higher reduction of both indicators over time in the ICP cohort. Significant reduction in depressive symptoms severity (QIDS: 14.6 vs 10.0, p < .001; BDI: 26.3 vs 16.2, p < .001) was observed in ICP cohort (no data for TAU cohort).

Conclusions: The ICP patients demonstrated improvements on several levels including depressive symptoms, and changes in alcohol drinking patterns. The study demonstrated the overall effectiveness of the ICP and apparent advantage over TAU, which must be corroborated through a randomized clinical trial. (Am J Addict 2017;26:602-609) SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: This study is one of the first works showing the outcomes of an ICP developed in the mental health area and for co-occurring disorders. Despite the limitations, the relative advantage of the ICP methodology warrants future research in this area.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism* / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism* / psychology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated* / methods
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated* / organization & administration
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Management / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Treatment Outcome