Improving the identification and treatment of depression in low-income primary care clinics: a qualitative study of providers in the VitalSign6 program

Farra Kahalnik, Katherine Sanchez, Afrida Faria, Bruce D Grannemann, Manish Jha, Corey Tovian, E. Will Clark, Sara Levinson, Ronny Pipes, Meaghan Pederson, Madhukar H. Trivedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


QUALITY PROBLEM: Despite its global burden and prevalence, Major Depressive Disorder often goes undetected and untreated, and is particularly pervasive in the primary care setting. INITIAL ASSESSMENT: One in four Texans lack health insurance, and people with behavioral health disorders are disproportionately affected. It is possible to provide high-quality depression treatment in primary care settings with outcomes equal to those provided by specialty care. The Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care offered an opportunity to transform service delivery practices in underserved primary care practices to improve quality, health status, patient experience and coordination. CHOICE OF SOLUTION: A point-of-care, web-based, self-report based software program, VitalSign6, was developed to provide universal depression screening in primary care practices and assist providers in monitoring and treating patients' symptoms using principles of Measurement-Based Care. IMPLEMENTATION: Implementation included a multi-faceted training program designed to build confidence and competence in participating clinics' medical providers and staff as well as ongoing performance improvement delivered by the VitalSign6 team. EVALUATION: Primary care providers (N = 11) were interviewed, using a semi-structured interview guide, with a focus on barriers and challenges to full integration, perceptions of the most/least valuable aspects of the program, and the program's impact on knowledge, attitudes and behaviors about depression screening and treatment. LESSONS LEARNED: More efficient technology is needed to reduce time wasted, as is training to reduce stigma and correct misconceptions about antidepressant medications. Provider buy-in is essential. CONCLUSIONS: Despite barriers, VitalSign6 increased knowledge, changed attitudes and enhanced providers' depression screening and treatment skills over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalInternational journal for quality in health care : journal of the International Society for Quality in Health Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Mental health disorders < Disease categories
  • Primary care / general practice < Setting of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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