The number of older adults is rising sharply and is expected to increase from 40.3 million to 72.1 million between 2010 and 2030. According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of adults aged 65 and older use text messaging. Despite misconceptions to the contrary, text messaging as part of primary care for older adults is growing. Text messaging holds promise as a strategy for engaging older adults in Collaborative Care depression treatment through frequent contact with a behavioral health care manager. The purpose of this research project is to develop and pilot test a text messaging intervention delivered in California primary care settings serving a patient population that is at least 25% older adults. Published research (Bao et. al. 2015) demonstrated that early follow-up contact predicts better clinical outcomes for patients. A recent analysis published by the AIMS Center (Renn et. al. 2021) showed that Collaborative Care was equally effective in older and younger adults but that older adults needed more contact with the behavioral health care manager to achieve these equivalent outcomes. Text messaging may be an effective strategy for both early and more frequent contact with patients. The AIMS Center is partnering with the Archstone Foundation on this project.
Through Archstone Foundation’s Depression in Late Life Initiative, the Care Partners project seeks to improve depression care for older adults by building innovative and effective community partnerships. Specifically, the Care Partners project has the following goals: 1) develop late-life depression innovations among primary care, community-based organizations (CBOs) and family, 2) build a learning community of clinics, CBOs, and researchers in California who will work together on the Care Partners Late-Life Depression Initiative to improve care for depressed older adults, 3) conduct an evaluation of the developing models, and 4) develop and conduct a Learning Collaborative in Year 5 for California clinics and CBOs interested in improving depression care for older adults. Throughout the project, project teams at the University of Washington (UW) and UC-Davis (UCD) provide technical assistance and evaluation to support site development and sustainment. Together, the community-engaged partnerships have tremendous potential to improve access to care, patient engagement, patient care experience and quality of care. In addition, CBO and clinic partners are well primed to improve care through addressing the social determinants of health.