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Telemedicine Aided Depression Care During Pandemic

No adverse effects seen for antidepressant fulfillment; increases were seen in symptom screening

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Use of telemedicine during the pandemic may have improved some aspects of depression care, according to a study published in the April issue of Medical Care.

Nancy S. Weinfield, Ph.D., from the Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic Permanente Research Institute in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues examined changes over time in virtual behavioral health care-related practices for patient encounters with diagnoses of major depression using data from electronic health records from three integrated health care systems prepandemic (January 2019 to March 2020), peak-pandemic shift to virtual care (April 2020 to June 2020), and recovery of health care operations (July 2020 to June 2021).

The researchers found that antidepressant medication orders declined modestly but significantly in two of the three systems during the peak-pandemic period but rebounded during the recovery period. However, there were no significant changes observed in fulfillment of ordered antidepressant medications by patients. Across all three systems, completion of symptom screeners increased significantly during the peak-pandemic period and continued to increase significantly in the subsequent period.

“The transition and subsequent adjustment period have instead been marked by improved adherence to measurement-based care practices in virtual visits, signaling a potential new capacity for virtual health care delivery,” the authors write.

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