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Despite well-established guidelines for managing major depressive disorder, its extensive disability burden persists. This Value of Treatment mission from the European Brain Council aimed to elucidate the nature and extent of “gaps” between best-practice and current-practice care, specifically to:
1. Identify current treatment gaps along the care pathway and determine the extent of these gaps in comparison with the stepped-care model and
After agreement upon a set of relevant treatment gaps, data pertaining to each gap were gathered and synthesized from several sources across six European countries. Subsequently, a modified Delphi approach was undertaken to attain consensus among an expert panel on proposed recommendations for minimizing treatment gaps.
Four recommendations were made to increase the depression diagnosis rate (from ~50% episodes), aiming to both increase the number of patients seeking help, and the likelihood of a practitioner to correctly detect depression. These should reduce time to treatment (from ~1 to ~8 years after illness onset) and increase rates of treatment; nine further recommendations aimed to increase rates of treatment (from ~25 to ~50% of patients currently treated), mainly focused on targeting the best treatment to each patient. To improve follow-up after treatment initiation (from ~30 to ~65% followed up within 3 months), seven recommendations focused on increasing continuity of care. For those not responding, 10 recommendations focused on ensuring access to more specialist care (currently at rates of ~5–25% of patients).
The treatment gaps in depression care are substantial and concerning, from the proportion of people not entering care pathways to those stagnating in primary care with impairing and persistent illness. A wide range of recommendations can be made to enhance care throughout the pathway.
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