Depression is one of the most common illnesses in the UK, affecting one in six people at some stage in their lives and accounting for a quarter of GP visits. Despite this, practice nurses receive limited or no training and many feel ill-prepared to discuss depression.
Proactive care is routinely provided by practice nurses for physical chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes but is not offered for depression with nurses often feeling apprehensive about broaching the subject with patients.
This report presents the findings of a three year research study which evaluated whether, with appropriate training, nurses could offer proactive care to people with depression which would reduce the symptoms and have a positive impact on people's lives. The study also looked at how cost-effective this type of support would be.
Key findings of the study
- Nurses had improved confidence and skills when empowered to manage patients with depression.
- Patients experienced significant improvements in social functioning after receiving regular sessions with practice nurses, reporting increased confidence and self esteem.
- There were small improvements reported in the severity of depression experienced by patients when compared to a control group.
- Patients attending all ten sessions were likely to experience significant improvements in both symptoms and social functioning.
- Many patients felt that ongoing proactive care should be provided by a practice nurse rather than a GP.
- Proactive care was shown to be potentially cost effective in achieving positive changes in severity of depression and improving the patient’s ability to play a fuller role in society.
Who is this report for?
This report will be of interest to GPs and practice managers looking for new ways to meet the need for services designed to help those with chronic and recurrent depression.
It will also be of interest to practice-based nurses, looking to improve their confidence and skills in helping those with depression, and people with depression who are interested in new approaches to help manage their condition.
How will the guide help practice nurses?
- recognise depression and anxiety in patients and understand ways in which these conditions affect people’s lives.
- feel more confident talking to and supporting patients with depression and anxiety.
- be aware of the main approaches to managing depression and anxiety and the most commonly used treatments.
- learn more about what different services are available for people with depression and anxiety.
- feel secure about asking someone whether there is any risk of them harming themselves and know how to deal safely and appropriately with their answer.
This study was conducted by University College London and funded by Big Lottery Fund.