Diagnosing Depression in Primary Care--a Multimedia Tool

Period of Performance: 08/01/1997 - 07/31/1998


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Computer One, Inc.
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (Adapted from applicant's abstract): The goal of Phase I is to demonstrate the feasibility of using interactive computer media successfully to teach primary care practitioners how to diagnose depression according to the clinical practice guidelines found in Volume 1, Detection and Diagnosis of Depression in Primary Care, issued by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. The sample module in Phase I will be extended to a complete interactive package to cover both diagnosis and treatment in Phase II. Specific aims are: to generate a detailed case study; refine the storyboard; create a Depression Learning Assessment tool; assemble/produce the elements; produce the sample pre- and post interactive module on CD-ROM for Macintosh; test with primary care physicians; and write a final report. About 1 in 20 Americans suffer from depression every year. While more than 5 percent of patients seeking primary care may be suffering from depression, it "is underdiagnosed and undertreated" by the very practitioners most likely to see them. In primary care settings, 50 percent of the cases of depression are missed; of patients put on medication for depression, 40 percent stop their medications in 2 weeks, and 70 percent in one month. With the costs of mood disorders estimated at $16 billion per year, appropriate treatment has both economic significance and potential life-saving value: 20 percent of depressed individuals will die by suicide and 60 percent of suicides have major depression. The initial case will be a female with symptoms of depression and anxiety who presents with somatic complaints. The software will include a Training Interview, followed by an interactive Practice Interview with a randomized Patient Database and Help reference. The applicant claims that the proposed effort represents an innovative application of multimedia technology to medical education.