Home-based care interventions delivered by social workers can reduce depressive symptoms and enhance quality of life in older African Americans. Depression is common among older adults and African Americans are at greater risk than white persons for not receiving standard depression care or treatment. Improving access to depression care for this group is a public health concern.
Researchers hypothesized that a home-based intervention could alleviate depressive symptoms and improve quality of life in older African Americans. The study authors worked with senior centers to recruit 208 older African Americans with depressive symptoms into the study. Most of the patients enrolled were unemployed and had multiple health conditions. The patients were randomly assigned to either 10 sessions of a home-based, multicomponent intervention delivered by a social worker or to a wait list. At four months, the patients in the intervention group reported improved mood and quality-of-life indicators, with gains sustained up to eight months.
While the intervention proved effective, the authors suggest that sustainability may be an issue due to current reimbursement mechanisms. They also suggest a need to partner with primary care to boost treatment effects for patients with multiple and significant other health issues.
A Home-Based Intervention to Reduce Depressive Symptoms and Improve Quality of Life in Older African Americans: A Randomized Trial, Laura N. Gitlin, PhD; Lynn Fields Harris, MPA; Megan C. McCoy, MSS, MLSP; Nancy L. Chernett, MPH; Laura T. Pizzi, PharmD, MPH; Eric Jutkowitz, BA; Edward Hess, MS; and Walter W. Hauck, PhD, Ann Intern Med. 2013;159(4):243-252. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-159-4-201308200-00005