SEATTLE, March 17 (UPI) -- Follow-up online messaging by trained nurses resulted in less depression among patients being treated for depression, U.S. researchers say.
Dr. Gregory E. Simon, a Group Health psychiatrist and Group Health Research Institute senior investigator, says the study involved a randomized controlled trial of 208 Group Health patients. Half had three online care contacts with a trained psychiatric nurse, and were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, take their antidepressant medication as prescribed and be more satisfied with their treatment for depression.
The patients in the trial were starting antidepressant medication prescribed by their primary care providers.
"While more Americans are taking antidepressants, the quality of care for depression remains among the lowest scores on the U.S. health care report card," Simon said in a statement. "Especially in primary care, where most treatment for depression starts, not enough patients receive follow-up contact or take their antidepressant medication as prescribed."
In previous studies, Simon and his colleagues said they successfully tailored care for depression patients using telephone calls, but many attempts at phone contact resulted in the nurse and patient playing "phone tag." Online messages require no simultaneous live contact, so they boost the convenience and affordability of follow-up care.
The findings are published online ahead of print in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.