Rural-Urban Differences In The Use, Type, And Quality Of Depression Treatment

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2006
Project completed:
December 2008
As access to evidence-based treatment for affective disorders (major depressive disorder, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder) improves in urban areas, it is critical to monitor rural-urban differences in the use and quality of treatment over time to identify and address rural disparities, especially for vulnerable populations such as the elderly and ethnic minorities. Private managed care organizations have begun to disseminate evidence-based treatments for affective disorders, especially depression. However, these dissemination programs tend to target primarily urban areas, especially those populations covered by employer-sponsored insurance. As a result, disparities for rural, minority and elderly populations might actually be increasing over time. Thus, it is critical to monitor disparities with respect to the receipt of high quality treatments for affective disorders, especially pharmacotherapy (which has been the focus of most dissemination programs). If disparities continue to exist or are found to be increasing over time, it will provide evidence for policy makers about the need to develop specialized programs to disseminate evidence-based practices into rural areas (targeting vulnerable populations).