Community pharmacists may close gaps in depression screening for people with diabetes

JAPhA study: All it takes is adding the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 to diabetes education

Community pharmacists can help ensure that people with diabetes are adequately screened and treated for depression, say researchers in a study published online in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. Roughly one-third of people who have diabetes have signs of depression and in many cases the depression remains undiagnosed for lack of screening, but the study suggests that incorporating the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) into diabetes education programs held at community pharmacies can help fill this gap in care.

In the study, adult patients with diabetes who attended diabetes self-management classes and had uncontrolled diabetes as suggested by A1C values greater than 7% completed a PHQ-9 one of three ways: they filled it out after a presentation about coping with diabetes or during individual diabetes self-management education classes, or they provided answers during a follow-up call after completing their diabetes self-management education. The pharmacy faxed a copy of the screenings to the providers who referred the patients to the diabetes education program. If a patient screened positive for possible depression, the report included a suggestion for further evaluation and possible treatment with medication.

Fifty-seven patients took the screening, and 11 (19.3%) were positive for possible depression. Among the providers who referred these 11 patients, only three responded to the reports, and none of them initiated treatment for depression for their patients. This led the researchers to recommend that pharmacists who offer depression screening use methods other than faxing to communicate with providers. In their conclusion, the researchers note that overall, the results show that community pharmacists can help ensure that depression screening is provided for patients with diabetes.

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