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December 2005 Issue

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Study Seeks to Improve Depression Care

Published December 2005

More than 19 million Americans suffer from depression, and of those who seek help, more than half turn to their primary-care provider.

Research shows, however, that primary-care physicians fail to recognize depression in nearly half their patients, and they fail to provide adequate treatment for more than two-thirds of their diagnosed patients.

UC researchers hope to change that by studying depression in primary-care settings, courtesy of a $621,675, three-year grant awarded to the College of Nursing from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Over the past 20 years, says Seong-yi Baik, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, efforts have been made to increase the ability of primary-care physicians to recognize and manage depression. Recent research has shown, however, that improvements don't have a lasting effect, probably because data was gathered on variables that influence depression care, without really understanding how those variables actually affect everyday clinical practice.

"What's different about our study is that we'll attempt to understand depression care from the perspective of primary-care physicians and their patients," explains Dr. Baik. "We believe systematic changes are more sustainable when they make sense to both groups.

"I hope we'll learn how depression is actually treated in primary-care practices. This will help us tailor interventions that make sense to physicians."

"This kind of grant is a perfect example of one of our goals at UC--helping the community through our research," says College of Nursing dean Andrea Lindell, DNSc. "Recognition and management of depression is a critical need, and this research is a first step in designing quality improvement interventions that are feasible and sustainable in primary-care practice."

Dr. Baik and her interdisciplinary research team, which includes co-investigators Jeffrey Susman, MD, chair of family medicine, C. Jeffrey Jacobson Jr., PhD, family medicine, and Jean Anthony, PhD, College of Nursing, will study about 70 providers (general internists, family physicians and nurse practitioners) in 40-45 practices throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

Providers interested in participating in the study can contact Dr. Baik at (513) 558-5219 or, or project director Emily Meyer at (513) 558-2969 or

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