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Screening for depression: integrating training into the professional development programme for low vision rehabilitation staff


  • Competing/conflicts of interest: No stated conflict of interest.

  • Funding sources: This project was funded by beyondblue: the national depression initiative.

Dr Gwyneth Rees, Health Services Research Unit, Centre for Eye Research Australia, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Melbourne, Locked Bag 8, East Melbourne, Vic. 8002, Australia. Email:


Background:  To describe the integration of depression screening training into the professional development programme for low vision rehabilitation staff and report on staff evaluation of this training.

Design:  Pre-post intervention study, in a single population of low vision rehabilitation staff.

Participants:  Three hundred and thirty-six staff from Australia's largest low vision rehabilitation organization, Vision Australia.

Methods:  Staff completed the depression screening and referral training as part of a wider professional development programme. A pre-post-training questionnaire was administered to all staff.

Main Outcome Measures:  Descriptive and non-parametric statistics were used to determine differences in self-reported knowledge, confidence, barriers to recognition and management of depression between baseline and post training.

Results:  One hundred and seventy-two participants completed both questionnaires. Following training, participants reported an increased knowledge of depression, were more likely to respond to depression in their clients and reported to be more confident in managing depression (P < 0.05). A range of barriers were identified including issues related to the client (e.g. acceptance of referrals); practitioners (e.g. skill, role); availability and accessibility of psychological services; time and contact constraints; and environmental barriers (e.g. lack of privacy). Additional training incorporating more active and ‘hands-on’ sessions are likely to be required.

Conclusions:  This training is a promising first step in integrating a depression screening tool into low vision rehabilitation practice. Further work is needed to determine the barriers and facilitators to implementation in practice and to assess clients' acceptability and outcomes.