Specialist mental health consultation for depression in Australian aged care residents with dementia: a cluster randomized trial

Authors


K. McSweeney, MD, E-mail: kate.mcsweeney@monash.edu

Abstract

Objective

This cluster randomized controlled trial sought to determine whether multidisciplinary specialist mental health consultation was more effective than care as usual in treating the depression of aged care residents with dementia.

Methods

Three hundred and eighty nine aged care residents were screened for dementia and major depression. Forty four were ultimately included in the intervention sample, selected from 20 aged care facilities located in Melbourne, Australia. Facilities were randomly allocated to an intervention condition involving the provision of multidisciplinary specialist consultation regarding the best-practice management of depression in dementia, or to a care as usual condition. Consultations involved individually tailored medical and psychosocial recommendations provided to care staff and general practitioners. All residents participated in a comprehensive pre-intervention diagnostic assessment, including the administration of the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia. This assessment was repeated approximately 15 weeks post-intervention by a rater blind to study condition.

Results

Multidisciplinary specialist mental health consultation was significantly more effective than care as usual in treating the clinical depression of aged care residents with dementia (p < 0.05, partial η2 = 0.16). At follow-up, the mean Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia score for the intervention group was 9.47, compared with 14.23 for the control group. In addition, 77% of the intervention group no longer met criteria for major depression.

Conclusions

The results of this study suggest that the psychosocial and medical management of depressed aged care residents can be improved by increasing access to specialist mental health consultation. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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