Improving depression screening and follow-up in primary care settings

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Background: Depression is a serious problem globally and locally. It not only impacts work productivity and the costs of healthcare, but it also directly reduces quality of life and increases the burden of chronic illness. In addition, depression increases the risk of death by suicide. Depression is thought to be one of the most treatable of mental health disorders, yet it remains underdiagnosed and undertreated. The primary care setting provides the ideal location to identify individuals with depression and to initiate treatment. Objective: The objective of this quality improvement initiative was to meet or exceed the target rate of depression screening and follow-up in a federally qualified health center in northwest Montana. Method: Following a review of relevant literature, an extensive organizational assessment was conducted. A clinical practice guideline was written which recommended a standardized workflow and written standard operating procedure. Measures to educate and engage staff were employed. Staff feedback was solicited through an online survey. The clinical practice recommendation was appraised by the organization's quality team using the AGREE II appraisal tool. Results: Staff expressed support of change as evidenced by verbal responses to manager and anonymous online survey. The quality team approved the practice recommendations for implementation which was initiated on March 1, 2023. Preliminary data indicate that screening and follow-up rates have improved. Conclusion/Implications: It is feasible to improve depression screening and follow-up in primary care settings by studying the current state thoroughly and implementing key facilitators.




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