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Improving depression care in a psychiatry resident psychopharmacology clinic: measurement, monitoring, feedback and education


Objective Better outcomes for major depressive disorder (MDD) are associated with proactive treatment, including timely follow-up, systematic assessment and treatment changes for inadequate improvement. The effectiveness of an intervention to facilitate proactive treatment for MDD in a resident psychopharmacology clinic was studied.

Methods A quality improvement program with administrative process changes to improve flow and a 40-week pre/post study to evaluate the effect of education and feedback was conducted. A systematic assessment and reengineered scheduling system were implemented. During the first 20 weeks, baseline data were collected; during the second 20 weeks, feedback to residents and attending psychiatrists about adherence to evidence-based treatment recommendations was added.

Results Reengineering our system to improve flow was successful. By linking outcomes collection to completion of billing sheets, outcomes at 90% of visits for MDD throughout the 40-week study was assessed. By centralising our scheduling system, the percentage of active-phase patients with MDD seen for follow-up within 6 weeks was improved from 19% to 59%. In response to feedback, residents did not make significant changes to their overall practice patterns. Patient outcomes did not improve as a result of feedback to residents. Residents did improve their practice patterns for a subset of patients including those without comorbid psychiatric disorders and those whose depressive episodes had lasted <1 year.

Conclusions Improving administrative processes for the treatment of patients with MDD resulted in rapid changes that were associated with improvements in the delivery of evidence-based care. Feedback to residents was more difficult and less successful.

  • Major depressive disorder
  • quality assurance
  • guidelines
  • feedback
  • internship and residency
  • clinical practice guidelines
  • evidence-based medicine
  • graduate medical education
  • statistical process control
  • patient outcomes

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