Background: Depressive symptoms occur in approximately one-third of stroke patients. We sought to evaluate whether an integrated model of stroke care and secondary prevention reduced depressive symptomatology in stroke survivors. Methods: The integrated care (IC) model is a multifaceted program that provides ongoing collaboration between a specialist stroke service and primary care physicians, using telephone tracking, a bi-directional information feedback loop, management of vascular risk factors, and regular screening for depressive symptoms. Results: Patients exposed to the IC model exhibited significantly fewer depressive symptoms than controls at 12 months post stroke (as measured by the PHQ-9 screening tool; p = 0.006). At 12 months, 30/91 (33%) of the treatment group had depressive symptoms, compared to 52/95 (55%) of the control group (p = 0.003). With other variables adjusted for, the major associates of being depressed at 12 months were group allocation and physical disability. Conclusion: The integrated care approach provides a framework for detecting and monitoring depressive symptoms, and appears to be protective against post-stroke depression.
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