General Practice - Research Publications

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    Effectiveness of a Mental Health Service Navigation Website (Link) for Young Adults: Randomized Controlled Trial
    Sanci, L ; Kauer, S ; Thuraisingam, S ; Davidson, S ; Duncan, A-M ; Chondros, P ; Mihalopoulos, C ; Buhagiar, K (JMIR Publications, 2019-10-17)
    Background: Mental health and substance use disorders are the main causes of disability among adolescents and young adults yet fewer than half experiencing these problems seek professional help. Young people frequently search the Web for health information and services, suggesting that Web-based modalities might promote help-seeking among young people who need it. To support young people in their help-seeking, we developed a Web-based mental health service navigation website called Link. Link is based on the Theory of Planned Behavior and connects young people with treatment based on the type and severity of mental health symptoms that they report Objective: The study aimed to investigate the effect of Link on young people’s positive affect (PA) compared with usual help-seeking strategies immediately post intervention. Secondary objectives included testing the effect of Link on negative affect (NA), psychological distress, barriers to help-seeking, and help-seeking intentions. Methods: Young people, aged between 18 and 25 years, were recruited on the Web from an open access website to participate in a randomized controlled trial. Participants were stratified by gender and psychological distress into either the intervention arm (Link) or the control arm (usual help-seeking strategies). Baseline, immediate postintervention, 1-month, and 3-month surveys were self-reported and administered on the Web. Measures included the PA and NA scales, Kessler psychological distress scale (K10), barriers to adolescent help-seeking scale (BASH), and the general help-seeking questionnaire (GHSQ). Results: In total 413 young people were recruited to the trial (intervention, n=205; control, n=208) and 78% (160/205) of those randomized to the intervention arm visited the Link website. There was no evidence to support a difference between the intervention and control arms on the primary outcome, with PA increasing equally by approximately 30% between baseline and 3 months in both arms. NA decreased for the intervention arm compared with the control arm with a difference of 1.4 (95% CI 0.2-2.5) points immediately after the intervention and 2.6 (95% CI 1.1-4.1) at 1 month. K10 scores were unchanged and remained high in both arms. No changes were found on the BASH or GHSQ; however, participants in the intervention arm appeared more satisfied with their help-seeking process and outcomes at 1 and 3 months postintervention. The process of prompting young people to seek mental health information and services appears to improve their affective state and increase help-seeking intentions, regardless of whether they use a Web-based dedicated youth-focused tool, such as Link, or their usual search strategies. However, young people report greater satisfaction using tools designed specifically for them, which may encourage future help-seeking. The ability of Web-based tools to match mental health needs with appropriate care should be explored further.
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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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    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.
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    Mental health interventions and future major depression among primary care patients with subthreshold depression
    Davidson, SK ; Harris, MG ; Dowrick, CF ; Wachtler, CA ; Pirkis, J ; Gunn, JM (ELSEVIER, 2015-05-15)
    BACKGROUND: Subthreshold depression is prevalent in primary care and is associated with poorer quality of life, higher health care use and increased risk of major depressive disorder (MDD). Currently, it is unclear how subthreshold depression should be managed in primary care and no studies have investigated the relationship between current models of care and the development of MDD. This study aimed to describe usual care over a six month follow-up for primary care patients with subthreshold depression and to investigate the relationship between usual care and the development of MDD. METHODS: Data were derived from 250 participants with subthreshold depression from the diamond study, a longitudinal cohort study of primary care patients. Participants completed questionnaires at three and six months on their health care use, the interventions they received and their depression status. Interventions were categorised according to the NICE guidelines for the management of depression in adults. Generalised estimating equation (GEE) models and logistic regression were used to estimate the association between receiving an intervention and MDD over six months. RESULTS: Four fifths (80.8%) of participants received a mental health intervention. Therapeutic listening, reassurance, pharmacotherapy and advice to exercise were most common. Subsequent MDD was predicted by history of depression, baseline depressive symptom severity and receiving a mental health intervention. LIMITATIONS: Usual care was assessed via patient self-report. CONCLUSIONS: Primary care physicians deliver mental health interventions to most subthreshold patients. However, it appears that current interventions are not averting MDD. Further research to identify effective interventions which are feasible in primary care is needed.
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    Doctors' health-seeking behaviour: a questionnaire survey
    Davidson, SK ; Schattner, PL (AUSTRALASIAN MED PUBL CO LTD, 2003-09-15)
    OBJECTIVES: To explore doctors' perceptions of the acceptable limits to self-treatment and to identify barriers to doctors seeking appropriate healthcare. DESIGN: Self-completion, postal survey using three hypothetical case vignettes. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: 896 Australian doctors randomly selected from the Health Insurance Commission database and stratified by sex, discipline (general practitioner or specialist) and location (urban or rural). Data were collected between May and July 2001. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Doctors' self-reported attitudes on illness behaviour and choice of medical care in response to case vignettes. RESULTS: 358 (40%) doctors returned questionnaires. More participants believed it was acceptable to self-treat acute conditions (315/351; 90%) than to self-treat chronic conditions (88/350; 25%). Nine per cent (30/351) of participants believed it was acceptable to self-prescribe psychotropic medication. A greater proportion of GPs (206/230; 90%) than specialists (101/121; 83%) believed doctors are reluctant to attend another doctor, especially if the problem is psychological. Women and GPs were significantly less likely to report that it was easy to find a satisfactory treating doctor (women, 58/140 [41%]; men, 128/211 [61%]; GPs, 106/231 [46%]; specialists, 80/120 [67%]). Being a specialist was predictive of seeking appropriate healthcare for all three vignettes. CONCLUSION: Doctors have varying opinions regarding the acceptability of self-treating chronic conditions, and perceive considerable barriers to seeking appropriate medical care. Strategies are needed to challenge the culture of self-reliance.
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    The general health status of people with mental illness
    Davidson, S ; Judd, F ; Jolley, D ; Hocking, B ; Thompson, S (SAGE Publications, 2000-05-03)