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Thus far collaborative stepped care (CSC) studies have not incorporated self-help as a first step.
To evaluate the effectiveness of CSC in the treatment of common mental disorders.
An 8-month cluster randomised controlled trial comparing CSC to care as usual (CAU) (Dutch Trial Register identifier NTR1224). The CSC consisted of a stepped care approach guided by a psychiatric nurse in primary care with the addition of antidepressants dependent on the severity of the disorder, followed by cognitive–behavioural therapy in mental healthcare.
Twenty general practitioners (GPs) and 8 psychiatric nurses were randomised to provide CSC or CAU. The GPs recruited 163 patients of whom 85% completed the post-test measurements. At 4-month mid-test CSC was superior to CAU: 74.7% (n = 68) v. 50.8% (n = 31) responders (P = 0.003). At 8-month post-test and 12-month follow-up no significant differences were found as the patients in the CAU group improved as well.
Treatment within a CSC model resulted in an earlier treatment response compared with CAU.
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