In a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine it was found that treating depression in conjunction with other common chronic illnesses may increase the effectiveness of treatment of all the conditions. For more information on this study and what it may mean for you and your health, keep on reading after the jump.
People with several chronic conditions, especially depression, diabetes, and heart disease, find it more difficult than other patients to treat their conditions. Thankfully, a new study shows that by taking a different approach to treatment health care providers may be able to provide more complete care and save on costs in the long run.
It is estimated that more than 40% of older patients suffer from clinical depression, and even more often suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Science is still trying to determine the link between these illness other than age and lifestyle, because for some reason these conditions can be particularly hard to treat when experienced together and often compound each other’s symptoms.
A new study that has recently been published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that by coordinating care of these conditions and treating them together instead of as separate conditions may actually improve the effectiveness of treatment.
In the study, 214 patients that suffered from depression and diabetes, depression and heart disease, or all of these were split into two groups. One group received standard care, while another group was assigned individual, specially trained nurse coaches that provided them with goals to improve the symptoms of all of their conditions.
After the 12-month study was concluded, it was found that the patients who worked with the nurse coaches had significantly lower blood pressure, had better control of their blood sugar, and had lowered their cholesterol than those who did not receive the specialized care. Those who received the specialized care also reported feeling better than those who did not, and they preferred the individual attention to their health needs.
While the cost per person was a little higher than usual, the compacted practice actually lowered health care costs over the long run because patients required less medication and fewer doctor visits. It is estimated that these conditions account for more than 80% of Medicare costs, and as the government faces cuts to the program, these coordinated methods may be able to save them money in the long term.
What do you think of the idea of treating these conditions all at once as opposed to individually? Do you think the initial costs would be worth the financial and heath benefits it could provide in the long run? Let us know your opinions on this topic by leaving us comments, and be sure to check out this video about depression below.