Telephone Outreach Helps Depression

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For working individuals experiencing depression, help may literally be a phone call away. In a randomized controlled trial involving 604 workers with depression who were covered through the same insurance plan, a telephonic outreach and support program produced positive results in terms of increasing the worker participants' productivity and performance and in reducing lost time. The individuals also participated in clinical treatments, involving counseling and medication management. The control group received a counseling and medication management program without the telephonic supports.

In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 298, No. 12, September 26, 2007, Telephone Screening, Outreach, and Care Management for Depressed Workers and Impact on Clinical and Work Productivity Outcomes , (Wang, et al), the authors describe this innovative study involving employed individuals with depression.The study demonstrated that the $100 to $400 cost per depressed worker produced an annualized gain of $1800 in higher worked hours per participant. While the study did not address the durability of the outcome attained, it provided a unique approach to bringing an effective support to the workplace to enable workers and their employers to benefit from increased job retention, enhanced productivity and reduced absenteeism.

Innovations in service delivery and supports can produce positive results. In this case the individuals and the employer experienced many positive benefits from a simple system of telephone outreach.

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