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November 20, 2009
Depression: Pharmacists Can Help Through Collaborative Care
Community pharmacists could make a tremendous difference in the care of patients with depression through better integration in a collaborative model of care, according to a white paper released by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation.
Building on the success of pharmacists' services to patients with other chronic diseases in programs such as the Diabetes Ten City Challenge, the foundation convened a coordinating council to discuss the collaborative role of the community pharmacist in managing depression. After reviewing available literature on depression and its treatment, the council discussed the pharmacists' role and concluded, "Innovative approaches for expanding community pharmacist involvement in identification of patients with depression and in their care should be developed to maximize the impact pharmacists can make in the lives of those who suffer from the disease."
Depression affects more than 19 million Americans each year. The disease results in 400 million lost work days each year, and if left untreated, costs more than $43.7 billion in absenteeism from work, lost productivity, and direct treatment costs, pointed out a release from APhA.
With this in mind, the APhA Foundation's coordinating council, a group of national experts and caregivers in mental health and depression, developed "Expanding the Role of the Community Pharmacist in Managing Depression."
The council concluded that depression is best managed by collaboration among patients and their health care providers. The paper recommended involving pharmacists in identifying individuals at risk for depression; screening patients with comorbidities and other risk factors; providing medication therapy management (MTM) services and participating in collaborative practice arrangements; providing information on accessing patient assistance programs; serving as a source for information on depression and social support resources; and participating in local/regional/national mental health organizations, advisory boards, and other support resources.
Studies identifying barriers to pharmacist inclusion were brought to the council's attention. These included unfamiliarity with mental health issues, lack of time and other workplace infrastructure issues, and lack of financial support for implementing new care models. Council members encouraged continued research into collaborative care models and pharmacist involvement in providing care to patients with depression.
The paper concluded with specific recommendations to enhance the pharmacist's role in managing patients with depression, addressing issues such as education and training, collaborating with physicians to identify patients at risk, pharmacist's role in providing patient education, provider collaboration and communication, and quality of care and outcomes.
The Foundation’s coordinating council was made possible by a grant from Wyeth.