Distance Learning in Depression for Rural Primary Care Providers

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Kathryn Rost, PhD, 850.645.7367
Project completed:
September 2006

Primary care providers (PCPs) provide most mental health treatment in rural areas, as they are often the most readily available and acceptable type of providers for rural residents. Rural PCPs receive limited training in the identification and treatment of mental illness while in school, and lack the time/resources to pursue advanced training once they are in practice. Rather than expect rural PCPs to "close the quality gap" by themselves, rural advocates have argued that the best approach to improving mental health outcomes in rural areas is to disseminate integrated care models to improve mental health services. Integrated care models use care managers to leverage PCP attempts to deliver evidence-based treatment (including psychoeducation, pharmacotherapy, and psychotherapy). Such models have been shown to be a cost-effective method of improving outcomes for major depression, anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol abuse.

The purpose of this project is to develop effective distance learning methods to train rural PCPs in integrated care models for depression using computer based training (E-Learning) using materials adapted from the MacArthur Initiative on Depression & Primary Care. The MacArthur Initiative on Depression & Primary Care seeks to "enhance the ability of primary care clinicians to recognize and manage depression." (http://www.depression-primarycare.org/about/mission/). The Initiative provides numerous resources for clinicians, organizations, and clinical trainers, including: 1) toolkits for identifying, treating, and monitoring all levels of depression; 2) video streams that demonstrate both a clinician's interaction with a patient during diagnosis and follow-up, as well as the role of a telephonic depression care manager and consulting psychiatrist; and 3) literature for review and dissemination.


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