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Improving Access to Psychological Therapies for older adults: auditing management of newly diagnosed mild and moderate depression in six general practices within the Birmingham and Solihull CCG


Background The first-line treatments for mild–moderate and moderate–severe depression according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence clinical guidelines for the management of depression in adults are psychological therapies followed by or alongside pharmacological treatment. We conducted an audit of patient records (as recorded by general practitioners (GPs)) to compare practice to the guidelines.

Methods Incident cases were retrospectively identified from electronic primary care records (SystmOne). From 40 320 registered patients, cases were identified based on previously coded new diagnoses of depression in the 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) years. Patient notes were screened for exclusion criteria (mental health problems that would alter management pathway) and for records of management discussions (pharmacological or psychological therapies) at the diagnostic appointment.

Results In 2016–2017 (n=315), psychological therapies for depression were discussed at 63.2% of diagnostic appointments, they were most discussed at appointments with those aged 18–29 years (70.8%), but this decreased with age to 56.3% of appointments with those aged ≥65 years. In 2017–2018 (n=244), psychological therapies were discussed at 70.9% of diagnostic appointments but were discussed at more appointments with those aged 18–29 years (81.6%) and at less appointments with those aged ≥65 years (39.4%). Discussion of pharmacological management was similar for all age groups in 2016–2017 (89.9%) and 2017–2018 (93.0%).

Implications For patients aged ≥65 years, psychological therapies are featuring less in management discussions with GPs or are not being recorded. Recommendations for change implemented at the practice included feedback of results and professional reminders throughout the 2019-2020 QOF year.

  • primary care
  • mental health

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