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Depression Management Pays On-the-Job Dividends

Workers who get help managing depression work longer, retain jobs

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- A treatment program in which trained mental health clinicians regularly telephoned depressed employees improved clinical and workplace outcomes, according to the results of a randomized trial reported in the Sept. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Philip S. Wang, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues recruited 604 depressed workers 18 and older who worked for 16 large companies covered by a large managed health care company. About half the participants enrolled in a telephone treatment program and the remainder received standard care. Care managers assessed the needs of program participants, then encouraged them to enroll in various forms of outpatient treatment, including psychotherapy, cognitive therapy and medication. The care managers also helped participants enroll in treatment programs and discussed treatment with providers.

Program participants had significantly less depression at both six- and 12-month assessments than those in the standard care group. Those in the program group also showed a 2.6-hour improvement per week in overall work functioning, thanks to increased job retention and increased hours worked.

"Learning how to optimize personal and societal gains by improving access to quality depression care across diverse communities through employer, practice and community-based programs and policy changes is a next agenda for evidence-based action," conclude the authors of an accompanying editorial.

Several study authors report financial ties to drug companies.

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