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Case management to improve major depression in primary health care: a systematic review

  • J. GENSICHEN (a1), M. BEYER (a1), C. MUTH (a1), F. M. GERLACH (a1), M. VON KORFF (a2) and J. ORMEL (a3)...

Background. Deficits in the care of depression lead to poor medication adherence, which increases the risk of an unfavourable outcome for this care. This review evaluates effects on symptoms and medication adherence of case management in primary health care.

Method. A systematic literature search was performed. The quality of the studies was rated according to the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organization of Care Group (EPOC) criteria. To conduct a subgroup analysis interventions were classified as either ‘standard’ or ‘complex’ case management.

Results. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria. In a meta-analysis we calculated a standard mean difference/effect size on symptom severity after 6–12 months of −0·40 (95% CI −0·60 to –0·20). Patients in the intervention groups were more likely to achieve remission after 6–12 months [relative risk (RR) 1·39, 95% CI 1·30–1·48]. The relative risk for clinical response was 1·82 (95% CI 1·68–2·05). Patients in intervention groups had better medication adherence than the control group (RR 1·5, 95% CI 1·28–1·86). We found heterogeneous results when assessing effects of different types of intervention.

Conclusions. We conclude that case management improves management of major depression in primary health-care settings.

Corresponding author
Chronic Care in Primary Care Research Unit, ‘PRoMPT-Project: PRimary care Monitoring for depressive Patients Trial’, Institute for General Practice, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Hospital, Frankfurt/M, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, D-60590 Frankfurt/M, Germany. (Email:
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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