Evidence Base

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A substantial body of evidence for collaborative care has emerged over the past 20 years, particularly for depression but increasingly for other conditions. These include anxiety disorders, PTSD (as one example, see the STEPS-UP project), and co-morbid medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Collaborative care is effective for all ages, including for adolescents experiencing depression. Most of the evidence demonstrates the effectiveness of collaborative care in medical settings, such as primary care and specialty medical care. Researchers are exploring other settings as well, such as OB/GYN clinics, community-based health centers, and schools.

More than 80 randomized controlled trials have shown collaborative care to be more effective than usual care. This has been further substantiated by several meta-analyses of the evidence, including a 2012 Cochrane Summary that reviewed 79 randomized controlled trials and 24,308 patients worldwide.

In early 2014, a paper in Psychosomatic Medicine found patients who received collaborative care were significantly less likely to experience a serious (including fatal) cardiovascular event than patients who received usual depression treatment. The study followed IMPACT patients for eight years after the conclusion of the original research study The authors recommended collaborative care as a primary prevention strategy for cardiovascular disease.

Collaborative care can make a big difference in people’s lives - not just whether or not they live with depression but whether or not they live.

Learn more about the IMPACT trial.

Further reading about the evidence base for collaborative care.