Improving Care for Late-Life Depression Through Partnerships With Community-Based Organizations: Results From the Care Partners Project

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2024 May;32(5):586-595. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2023.12.006. Epub 2023 Dec 15.


Objectives: Collaborative care (CC) has demonstrated effectiveness for improving late-life depression in primary care, but clinics offering this service can find it challenging to address unmet social needs that may be contributing to their patients' depression. Clinics may benefit from better coordination and communication with community-based organizations (CBO) to strengthen depression treatment and to address unmet social needs. We evaluated the feasibility of adding a CBO to enhance standard collaborative care and the impact of such partnered care on older adults.

Design: Multisite, prepost evaluation.

Setting: Eight (n = 8) partnerships between primary care clinics and community-based organizations in California.

Participants: A total of 707 depressed older adults (60 years or older) as evidenced by having a score of 10 or more on the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) received care under the Care Partners project.

Intervention: A CBO partner was added to augment CC for late-life depression in primary care.

Measurements: The PHQ-9 was used to identify depressed older adults and to monitor depression symptom severity during a course of care.

Results: At baseline, the average PHQ-9 depression score across the partnerships was 15, indicating moderate depression severity. Participating patients saw an average 7-point reduction in their PHQ-9 score, baseline to last score assessed, with nearly half of all participants (48.4%) experiencing a 50% or greater improvement from their baseline score.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that partnering with a community-based organization is a feasible and effective way for primary care clinics to address late-life depression in their patients.

Keywords: Collaborative care; community-based organizations; late life depression; partnership; peer support; social determinants of health; unmet social needs.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers
  • Depression* / therapy
  • Depressive Disorder* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Quality Improvement