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Phone-Based Therapy Helps Depressed Patients

Dial-Up Counseling Could Reach Those Who Aren't Being Treated

More Study Needed continued...

"We never had anyone say, 'Stop calling, you're bothering me,'" he says. "But many people did tell us how thankful they were that we didn't give up and stop calling."

American Psychiatric Association spokesman Darrel A. Regier, MD, MPH, says better patient follow-up is an increasing focus of depression treatment. The APA is currently conducting a pilot study designed to improve monitoring of patients starting antidepressants. Regier says this is being done because so many patients abandon drug therapy, either because they don't feel the medications are working or because of side effects.

Regier calls the telephone-treatment approach intriguing, but says it might be difficult to implement in the current health care environment. He points out that a third of the patients approached by Simon and colleagues refused to participate, indicating that a large percentage of depressed people would not consent to psychotherapy, no matter how it is delivered.

Furthermore, Regier says that it is not clear if the treatment approach can work outside of a managed care setting.

"Will patients agree to pay for this service," he says. "That is certainly not clear. Before we even try to develop a business model for this treatment we have to make sure that it works."

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