General Practice - Research Publications

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    Matching depression management to severity prognosis in primary care: results of the Target-D randomised controlled trial
    Fletcher, S ; Chondros, P ; Densley, K ; Murray, E ; Dowrick, C ; Coe, A ; Hegarty, K ; Davidson, S ; Wachtler, C ; Mihalopoulos, C ; Lee, YY ; Chatterton, ML ; Palmer, VJ ; Gunn, J (ROYAL COLL GENERAL PRACTITIONERS, 2021-02-01)
    BACKGROUND: Mental health treatment rates are increasing, but the burden of disease has not reduced. Tools to support efficient resource distribution are required. AIM: To investigate whether a person-centred e-health (Target-D) platform matching depression care to symptom severity prognosis can improve depressive symptoms relative to usual care. DESIGN AND SETTING: Stratified individually randomised controlled trial in 14 general practices in Melbourne, Australia, from April 2016 to February 2019. In total, 1868 participants aged 18-65 years who had current depressive symptoms; internet access; no recent change to antidepressant; no current antipsychotic medication; and no current psychological therapy were randomised (1:1) via computer-generated allocation to intervention or usual care. METHOD: The intervention was an e-health platform accessed in the GP waiting room, comprising symptom feedback, priority-setting, and prognosis-matched management options (online self-help, online guided psychological therapy, or nurse-led collaborative care). Management options were flexible, neither participants nor staff were blinded, and there were no substantive protocol deviations. The primary outcome was depressive symptom severity (9-item Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ-9]) at 3 months. RESULTS: In intention to treat analysis, estimated between- arm difference in mean PHQ-9 scores at 3 months was -0.88 (95% confidence interval [CI] = -1.45 to -0.31) favouring the intervention, and -0.59 at 12 months (95% CI = -1.18 to 0.01); standardised effect sizes of -0.16 (95% CI = -0.26 to -0.05) and -0.10 (95% CI = -0.21 to 0.002), respectively. No serious adverse events were reported. CONCLUSION: Matching management to prognosis using a person-centred e-health platform improves depressive symptoms at 3 months compared to usual care and could feasibly be implemented at scale. Scope exists to enhance the uptake of management options.
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    The assertive cardiac care trial: A randomised controlled trial of a coproduced assertive cardiac care intervention to reduce absolute cardiovascular disease risk in people with severe mental illness in the primary care setting
    Lewis, M ; Chondros, P ; Mihalopoulos, C ; Lee, YY ; Gunn, JM ; Harvey, C ; Furler, J ; Osborn, D ; Castle, D ; Davidson, S ; Jayaram, M ; Kenny, A ; Nelson, MR ; Morgan, VA ; Harrap, S ; McKenzie, K ; Potiriadis, M ; Densley, K ; Palmer, VJ (ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2020-10-01)
    BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for 40% of the excess mortality identified in people with severe mental illness (SMI). Modifiable CVD risk factors are higher and can be exacerbated by the cardiometabolic impact of psychotropic medications. People with SMI frequently attend primary care presenting a valuable opportunity for early identification, prevention and management of cardiovascular health. The ACCT Healthy Hearts Study will test a coproduced, nurse-led intervention delivered with general practitioners to reduce absolute CVD risk (ACVDR) at 12 months compared with an active control group. METHODS/DESIGN: ACCT is a two group (intervention/active control) individually randomised (1:1) controlled trial (RCT). Assessments will be completed baseline (pre-randomisation), 6 months, and 12 months. The primary outcome is 5-year ACVDR measured at 12 months. Secondary outcomes include 6-month ACVDR; and blood pressure, lipids, HbA1c, BMI, quality of life, physical activity, motivation to change health behaviour, medication adherence, alcohol use and hospitalisation at 6 and 12 months. Linear mixed-effects regression will estimate mean difference between groups for primary and secondary continuous outcomes. Economic cost-consequences analysis will be conducted using quality of life and health resource use information and routinely collected government health service use and medication data. A parallel process evaluation will investigate implementation of the intervention, uptake and outcomes. DISCUSSION: ACCT will deliver a coproduced and person-centred, guideline level cardiovascular primary care intervention to a high need population with SMI. If successful, the intervention could lead to the reduction of the mortality gap and increase opportunities for meaningful social and economic participation. Trial registration ANZCTR Trial number: ACTRN12619001112156.
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    Patient reported self-help strategies and the perceived benefits for managing sub-threshold depressive symptoms: A nested qualitative study of Australian primary care attendees
    Taylor, AK ; Palmer, VJ ; Davidson, S ; Fletcher, S ; Gunn, J (WILEY, 2021-11-12)
    BACKGROUND: Subthreshold depression is common in primary care, but there is little information about the self-help strategies that patients use and the perceived benefits of these. AIM: This study sought to elicit the self-help strategies that primary care attendees identified as beneficial for the self-management of subthreshold depressive symptoms and the implications for general practitioners. METHOD: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 14 people (April-May 2017) from the Target-D randomised controlled trial (RCT). Target-D investigated whether using a patient-centred clinical prediction tool and an e-health platform to match mental health management options to prognosis was beneficial for improving depressive symptoms at 3 months compared to usual care. Interviews were thematically analysed to identify self-help strategies and their perceived benefits. RESULTS: Four overarching domains for the self-management strategies were identified: social, cognitive, behavioural and restorative. Interviewees reported using strategies across multiple domains, which included undertaking enjoyable, immersive activities, that provided relief from automatic negative thoughts and had a perceived cognitive benefit. Differences in the perceived sense of agency were noted around the self-regulation of mood, which indicated more explicit direction to patient-identified self-help management strategies by general practitioners for some may be of benefit in routine care. CONCLUSION: Some of the reported self-management strategies aligned with evidence-based approaches such as physical activity and mindfulness for mental health symptom management. These findings can inform low-intensity interventions within stepped care models for mental health in primary care, social prescribing models and, help to guide the management of patients by GPs for subthreshold depression.
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    Exploring the feasibility of a community-based strength training program for older people with depressive symptoms and its impact on depressive symptoms.
    Sims, J ; Hill, K ; Davidson, S ; Gunn, J ; Huang, N (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2006-11-30)
    BACKGROUND: Depression is a disabling, prevalent condition. Physical activity programs may assist depression management in older people, ameliorate co-morbid conditions and reduce the need for antidepressants. The UPLIFT pilot study assessed the feasibility of older depressed people attending a community-based progressive resistance training (PRT) program. The study also aimed to determine whether PRT improves depressive status in older depressed patients. METHODS: A randomised controlled trial was conducted. People aged > or = 65 years with depressive symptoms were recruited via general practices. Following baseline assessment, subjects were randomly allocated to attend a local PRT program three times per week for 10 weeks or a brief advice control group. Follow-up assessment of depressive status, physical and psychological health, functional and quality of life status occurred post intervention and at six months. RESULTS: Three hundred and forty six people responded to the study invitation, of whom 22% had depressive symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale, GDS-30 score > or = 11). Thirty two people entered the trial. There were no significant group differences on the GDS at follow-up. At six months there was a trend for the PRT intervention group to have lower GDS scores than the comparison group, but this finding did not reach significance (p = 0.08). More of the PRT group (57%) had a reduction in depressive symptoms post program, compared to 44% of the control group. It was not possible to discern which specific components of the program influenced its impact, but in post hoc analyses, improvement in depressive status appeared to be associated with the number of exercise sessions completed (r = -0.8, p < 0.01). CONCLUSION: The UPLIFT pilot study confirmed that older people with depression can be successfully recruited to a community based PRT program. The program can be offered by existing community-based facilities, enabling its ongoing implementation for the potential benefit of other older people.
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    Evaluation of the Social Participation Questionnaire in adult patients with depressive symptoms using Rasch analysis
    Densley, K ; Davidson, S ; Gunn, JM (SPRINGER, 2013-10-01)
    PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to explore the psychometric properties of the 22-item Social Participation Questionnaire (SPQ). METHODS: The SPQ was administered to 789 adult primary care patients with depressive symptoms. As the items were intended to be summed together to provide total score, Rasch analysis (partial credit model) was applied to assess the overall fit of the model, individual item fit, differential item functioning (DIF), targeting of persons, response dependency, unidimensionality and person separation. RESULTS: To improve the scale's fit, it was necessary to re-score the response format. Two items demonstrated some DIF for gender and eight items showed DIF for age. To support the assumption of unidimensionality post hoc principal component analysis was performed. The analysis showed two subtests of the residuals with positive and negative loadings, but the person estimates derived from these two subtests were not statistically different to that derived from all items taken together. The response dependence between two items was identified; however, the magnitude of difficulty was very small. Although the questionnaire appeared to have insufficient items to assess the full spectrum of informal social contact, the SPQ was reasonably well targeted. CONCLUSION: The SPQ is a promising questionnaire for the measurement of social participation although it could benefit from the inclusion of further items to measure informal social contact. This study found support for the internal validity, internal consistency reliability, and unidimensionality. A future study will investigate whether targeting can be improved when additional items are included.
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    A Mobile Phone App to Improve the Mental Health of Taxi Drivers: Single-Arm Feasibility Trial
    Davidson, S ; Fletcher, S ; Wadley, G ; Reavley, N ; Gunn, J ; Wade, D (JMIR Publications, 2020-01-15)
    Background: Psychological distress among taxi drivers is 5 times higher than that in the general population, and more than half of all drivers have experienced 3 or more potentially traumatic events in their lifetime. Nevertheless, help-seeking for mental health problems in this male-dominated, predominately immigrant workforce is low. Mobile technologies have the potential to increase mental health awareness, teach self-help skills, and encourage help-seeking in this hard-to-reach population. Objective: This study aimed to assess the feasibility, acceptability, and potential efficacy of Driving to Health, a mobile phone–friendly mental health website app designed for people working as taxi drivers. Methods: Drivers (n=46) were recruited from the Melbourne Airport Taxi Holding Yard to participate in a single-arm trial. Self-reported, paper-based assessments were completed at baseline and at 1 month. Feasibility was measured by completion rates, representativeness of study participants, and levels of use. Acceptability was assessed by measuring users’ perception of the quality of the app and anticipated levels of future use. The efficacy of Driving to Health to increase awareness, self-help behaviors, and intentions to seek help was assessed using the user version of the Mobile App Rating Scale (uMARS) and the General Help-Seeking Questionnaire (GHSQ). Psychological symptoms were measured using the short form of the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21). Data were analyzed using complete case analysis. Results: In total, 42 participants comprising drivers from 10 different countries of origin, and 14 different languages, completed pre- and poststudy measures (42/46, 91% completion rate). Just under half (45%) of all users used the app more than once with an average visit of 4 min 8 seconds. Responding to the uMARS, 62% (26/42) of the participants said that they would recommend the app to many people. Nearly all (40/42, 95%) participants said that Driving to Health increased awareness of their own mental health; 86% (36/42) said that it increased their mental health knowledge; and 76% (32/42) said that it increased their self-help behaviors. Increases in help-seeking intentions on the GHSQ were not significant, and increases on all 3 scales of DASS-21 were not reliable or meaningful. Conclusions: This study suggests that Driving to Health is an acceptable and feasible electronic health intervention for a hard-to-reach population. Our findings also suggest that Driving to Health results in increases in mental health awareness, behaviors, and willingness to seek help.
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    Development of a Mobile Clinical Prediction Tool to Estimate Future Depression Severity and Guide Treatment in Primary Care: User-Centered Design
    Wachtler, C ; Coe, A ; Davidson, S ; Fletcher, S ; Mendoza, A ; Sterling, L ; Gunn, J (JMIR PUBLICATIONS, INC, 2018-04-01)
    BACKGROUND: Around the world, depression is both under- and overtreated. The diamond clinical prediction tool was developed to assist with appropriate treatment allocation by estimating the 3-month prognosis among people with current depressive symptoms. Delivering clinical prediction tools in a way that will enhance their uptake in routine clinical practice remains challenging; however, mobile apps show promise in this respect. To increase the likelihood that an app-delivered clinical prediction tool can be successfully incorporated into clinical practice, it is important to involve end users in the app design process. OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to maximize patient engagement in an app designed to improve treatment allocation for depression. METHODS: An iterative, user-centered design process was employed. Qualitative data were collected via 2 focus groups with a community sample (n=17) and 7 semistructured interviews with people with depressive symptoms. The results of the focus groups and interviews were used by the computer engineering team to modify subsequent protoypes of the app. RESULTS: Iterative development resulted in 3 prototypes and a final app. The areas requiring the most substantial changes following end-user input were related to the iconography used and the way that feedback was provided. In particular, communicating risk of future depressive symptoms proved difficult; these messages were consistently misinterpreted and negatively viewed and were ultimately removed. All participants felt positively about seeing their results summarized after completion of the clinical prediction tool, but there was a need for a personalized treatment recommendation made in conjunction with a consultation with a health professional. CONCLUSIONS: User-centered design led to valuable improvements in the content and design of an app designed to improve allocation of and engagement in depression treatment. Iterative design allowed us to develop a tool that allows users to feel hope, engage in self-reflection, and motivate them to treatment. The tool is currently being evaluated in a randomized controlled trial.
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    Target-D: a stratified individually randomized controlled trial of the diamond clinical prediction tool to triage and target treatment for depressive symptoms in general practice: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial
    Gunn, J ; Wachtler, C ; Fletcher, S ; Davidson, S ; Mihalopoulos, C ; Palmer, V ; Hegarty, K ; Coe, A ; Murray, E ; Dowrick, C ; Andrews, G ; Chondros, P (BMC, 2017-07-20)
    BACKGROUND: Depression is a highly prevalent and costly disorder. Effective treatments are available but are not always delivered to the right person at the right time, with both under- and over-treatment a problem. Up to half the patients presenting to general practice report symptoms of depression, but general practitioners have no systematic way of efficiently identifying level of need and allocating treatment accordingly. Therefore, our team developed a new clinical prediction tool (CPT) to assist with this task. The CPT predicts depressive symptom severity in three months' time and based on these scores classifies individuals into three groups (minimal/mild, moderate, severe), then provides a matched treatment recommendation. This study aims to test whether using the CPT reduces depressive symptoms at three months compared with usual care. METHODS: The Target-D study is an individually randomized controlled trial. Participants will be 1320 general practice patients with depressive symptoms who will be approached in the practice waiting room by a research assistant and invited to complete eligibility screening on an iPad. Eligible patients will provide informed consent and complete the CPT on a purpose-built website. A computer-generated allocation sequence stratified by practice and depressive symptom severity group, will randomly assign participants to intervention (treatment recommendation matched to predicted depressive symptom severity group) or comparison (usual care plus Target-D attention control) arms. Follow-up assessments will be completed online at three and 12 months. The primary outcome is depressive symptom severity at three months. Secondary outcomes include anxiety, mental health self-efficacy, quality of life, and cost-effectiveness. Intention-to-treat analyses will test for differences in outcome means between study arms overall and by depressive symptom severity group. DISCUSSION: To our knowledge, this is the first depressive symptom stratification tool designed for primary care which takes a prognosis-based approach to provide a tailored treatment recommendation. If shown to be effective, this tool could be used to assist general practitioners to implement stepped mental-healthcare models and contribute to a more efficient and effective mental health system. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR 12616000537459 ). Retrospectively registered on 27 April 2016. See Additional file 1 for trial registration data.
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    A snapshot of the prevalence of physical activity amongst older, community dwelling people in Victoria, Australia: patterns across the 'young-old' and 'old-old'.
    Sims, J ; Hill, K ; Davidson, S ; Gunn, J ; Huang, N ( 2007-02-23)
    BACKGROUND: Physical activity has a range of health benefits for older people. The aim of this study was to determine physical activity prevalence and attitudes amongst respondents to a trial screening survey. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted. Subjects were community dwelling older people aged > or = 65 years, recruited via general practices in Victoria, Australia. Participants completed a mailed screening tool containing the Geriatric Depression Scale, the Active Australia survey and the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire. RESULTS: Of 330 participants, 20% were > or = 80 years. Activity levels were similar to those reported in population studies. The proportion of participants reporting physical activity was greatest for the walking category, but decreased across categories of physical activity intensity. The oldest-old were represented at all physical activity intensity levels. Over half reported exercising at levels that, according to national criteria are, 'sufficient to attain health benefit'. A greater proportion of participants aged 85 years and older were unaware of key physical activity messages, compared to participants aged less than 85 years. CONCLUSION: Most population surveys do not provide details of older people across age categories. This survey provided information on the physical activity of people up to 91 years old. Physical activity promotion strategies should be tailored according to the individual's needs. A better understanding of the determinants of physical activity behaviour amongst older sub-groups is needed to tailor and target physical activity promotion strategies and programs to maximise physical activity related health outcomes for older people.
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    Factors associated with smoking and smoking cessation among primary care patients with depression: a naturalistic cohort study
    Gilchrist, G ; Davidson, S ; Middleton, A ; Herrman, H ; Hegarty, K ; Gunn, J (EMERALD GROUP PUBLISHING LTD, 2015-01-01)
    Purpose – People with a history of depression are more likely to smoke and less likely to achieve abstinence from smoking long term. The purpose of this paper is to understand the factors associated with smoking and smoking cessation among patients with depression. Design/methodology/approach – This paper reports on smoking prevalence and cessation in a cohort of 789 primary care attendees with depressive symptoms (Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale score of=16) recruited from 30 randomly selected Primary Care Practices in Victoria, Australia in 2005. Findings – At baseline, 32 per cent of participants smoked. Smokers were more likely to be male, unmarried, receive government benefits, have difficulty managing on available income, have emphysema, a chronic illness, poor self-rated health, to have more severe depressive and anxiety symptoms, to be taking anti-depressants, to be hazardous drinkers, to report suicidal ideation and to have experienced childhood physical or sexual abuse. At 12 months, 20 participants reported quitting. Females and people with good or better self-rated health were significantly more likely to have quit, while people with a chronic illness or suicidal ideation were less likely to quit. Smoking cessation was not associated with increases in depression or anxiety symptoms. Only six participants remained quit over four years. Practical implications – Rates of smoking were high, and long-term cessation was low among primary care patients with depressive symptoms. Primary care physicians should provide additional monitoring and support to assist smokers with depression quit and remain quit. Originality/value – This is the first naturalistic study of smoking patterns among primary care attendees with depressive symptoms.