CoCM Can Improve Depression for Low-Income, Rural Dwelling Patients

October 30, 2023

Collaborative Care (CoCM) shown to achieve comparable or better depression outcomes in rural clinics that treat low-income patients. 


The gap between depression treatment needs and the available mental health workforce is particularly large in rural areas. Collaborative Care (CoCM) is an evidence-based approach that leverages limited mental health specialists for maximum population effect. This study evaluates depression treatment outcomes clinical processes of care, and primary care provider experiences for CoCM implementaion in 8 rural clinics treating low-income patients. 


[Authors] used CoCM registry data to analyze depression response and remission then used logistic regression to model variance in depression outcomes. Primary care providers reported their experiences with this practice change 18 months following program launch. 


Participating clinics enrolled 5,187 adult patients, approximately 15% of the adult patient population. Mean PHQ-9 depression score was 16.1 at baseline and 10.9 at last individual measurement, a statistically and clinically significant improvement. Suicidal ideation was also reduced significantly. Multivariate logistic regression predicted the probability of depression response and remission after controlling for several demographic attributes and processes of care, showing a significant amount of variance in outcomes could be explained by clinic, length of time in treatment, and age. Primary care providers reported positive experiences overall. 


Three quarters of participating primary care clinics, adapting CoCM for limited resource settings, exceeded depression response outcomes reported in a controlled research trial and mirrored results of large-scale quality improvement implementations. Future research should examine quality improvement strategies to address clinic-level variation and sustain improvements in clinical outcomes achieved. 


Powers, D.M., Bowen, D.J., Arao, R.F., Vredevoogd, M., Russo, J., Grover, T., & Unutzer, J. (2020). Rural clinics implementing collaborative care for low-income patients can achieve comparable or better depression outcomes. Families, Systems, & Health.