MHRN III Pilot Project 2: Outreach to Reduce Depression Treatment Disparities

Funder: NIMH

Grant Number: U19MH121738

Project Period: 07/01/2021 – 06/30/2024

Brief Narrative:

Failure to initiate treatment is a major gap in care for depression – A recent Mental Health Research Network (MHRN) study involving more than 240,000 patients in 5 health systems with a new diagnosis of depression in primary care found that only about a third (36%) had completed a psychotherapy visit or filled a prescription for antidepressant medication within 90 days of a new depression diagnosis.
Large racial and ethnic disparities in depression treatment initiation exist – In that MHRN study the odds of Asians, Blacks and Hispanics initiating treatment were 30% lower than for Non-Hispanic Whites.
Previous research has focused on care after treatment initiation – Collaborative care and care management programs can reduce disparities, improving outcomes among traditionally under-served racial and ethnic groups. This work, however, has usually focused on those who have already initiated treatment.
Interventions to improve treatment initiation must accommodate diversity of patient experience and preferences –Underserved racial and ethnic groups may prefer psychotherapy over medication and may also prefer alternative treatments or alternative care providers. One size of depression treatment does not fit all.
eHealth technologies have the potential to address failures in treatment initiation – Previous research by MHRN investigators and others demonstrates that online messaging and other telehealth technologies can effectively and efficiently improve depression treatment adherence. These interventions, however, have focused on adherence after treatment initiation and have been tested primarily in non-Hispanic white patients.
Proposed trial: This pilot study will refine, adapt and test an outreach intervention to improve depression treatment initiation among patients recently receiving a new diagnosis of depression in primary care. Focusing on African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic patients, the study will leverage existing MHRN work to implement an automated outreach program with follow-up care facilitation by mental health clinicians. The intervention will utilize analytic and technological expertise developed by the MHRN to rapidly identify patients, send outreach messages, conduct assessments and facilitate care for patients with depression who fail to initiate treatment in a timely manner. The intervention will be developed with the input of patients in the target racial and ethnic minority populations and providers. Approximately 400 eligible patients in two MHRN health systems will be randomized to the intervention group or usual care. Outcomes (treatment initiation and rates recorded depression remission and response) will be ascertained from health system records. Analyses will examine intervention participation and compare the primary outcome (treatment initiation) and secondary outcomes (recorded depression remission and response) between groups. Results will inform a subsequent full-scale pragmatic trial to assess reduction in population-level disparities.

  • Lead Site:
    • KPHI (PI Vanessa Simiola)
  • Participating Sites:
    • HFHS (Site PI Lisa Matero)
    • KPWA (Co-I Greg Simon)
  • Awarded Budget (total costs):
    • Year 1: $112,382

Current Status

Over the reporting period Institutional Board Approval has been granted and focus group materials have been finalized as part of the formative research. Eligible participants were identified within the health care systems via distributed SAS code. Participant recruitment is currently underway within one (KPHI) of the two health care systems, with online focus groups scheduled in the beginning of May. The second health care system (HFHS) is awaiting local IRB approval and will begin recruitment immediately following. Provider surveys are scheduled for the end of the reporting period.

Summary of findings

Not yet available




Funding Announcement

Notice of Award

Personnel Contact List

Human Subjects: YES

IRB Review: KPSC is single IRB reviewing for KPHI, HFHS, and KPWA. File #12874.

Clinical Trial: YES