• Screening for Depression in a Rural Primary Care Setting

      Wallander, Jacquelyn C.; Yarbrough, Karen (2020-05)
      Problem and Purpose: The United States Preventative Services Taskforce recommends depression screening in the general adult population. Patients with untreated depression have higher morbidity rates in many diagnosis groups. Detecting and managing depression allows patients to better self-manage chronic diseases and contributes to an overall sense of improved well-being. In a private primary care setting a practice gap existed in which patients were not routinely screened for depression. The purpose of this quality improvement (QI) project was to implement a screening process for adults in a primary care practice to detect depression symptoms and offer treatment if indicated. Methods: The primary aim of this QI project was to implement a depression screening process for adults in a primary care practice using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), a validated depression screening instrument. Primary outcomes measured: provider compliance in obtaining depression screenings and calculating the percentage of patients identified with depression. Eligible patients were aged 18-64 being seen for an annual exam with two Nurse Practitioners (NP). The NPs were provided PHQ-9 education and weekly reminders to complete the screening. During each patient annual exam, the patient was provided a copy of the PHQ-9. The NP reviewed results and treated when indicated. Charts were audited weekly for: provider compliance and depression classification. Results: Depression screening compliance was 67%, (n=30/45) and 30% of patients screened (n=9/30) were diagnosed with depression. All depressed patients were offered treatment. 20% were new depression diagnoses (n=6/30) and 10% had a history of depression (n=3/30). 13% (n=4/30) of patients were provided referrals to psychotherapy and 7% (n=2/30) were started on a medication for depression. The majority of the positive depression screenings (67%, n=6/9) were detected as mild. Conclusion: Depression screening using the PHQ-9 instrument is an effective way to detect depression. This will reduce the untreated depression rates in the practice and connect patients to proper treatment. Once depression is managed, patients are able to better self-manage chronic diseases. Implementation of the PHQ-9 into the provider workflow will increase depression screening compliance. As a result of this project, the primary care practice built the PHQ-9 instrument into the electronic health record to facilitate provider compliance.