Group Health Logo Treating patients suffering from multiple common chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease may not be difficult. In case depression comes along with diabetes, heart disease, or both the health outcomes probably turn out less favorable. Investigators from the University of Washington (UW) and Group Health Research Institute claim that team-based approach can help treat patients diagnosed with depression and physical disease together.

In order to analyze the efficacy of a primary care intervention called TEAMcare, scientists enrolled 214 Group Health Cooperative patients. Participants were randomly assigned to either receive standard care or the TEAMcare intervention. Those belonging to the TEAMcare intervention were coached by a nurse care manager, monitored disease control and depression, and worked with the patient’s primary care doctors to make modifications in medications as well as lifestyle if treatment goals were not reached. Reductions in depression, blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol levels were registered among patients subjected to the TEAMcare intervention.

Dr. Wayne J. Katon, a UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and an affiliate investigator at Group Health Research Institute, alleged, “Depressed patients with multiple uncontrolled chronic diseases are at high risk of heart attack, stroke, and other complications. We are excited about finding a new way to help patients control these chronic diseases, including depression. Then they can get back to enjoying what makes their lives worth living.”

Those undergoing the standard care were not provided with the nurses’ coaching and monitoring services. The patient’s mental and physical health was regularly examined by the nurse. On completion of one year, experts compared patients with the TEAMcare intervention to the standard care control group. It appeared that those in the TEAMcare intervention were considerably less depressed along with better levels of blood glucose, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure.

The study is published in New England Journal of Medicine.