Depression is not a natural part of aging, and yet one in ten older adults visiting a physician suffers from clinical depression, a serious health problem that often goes unrecognized.
Untreated, the disease can be debilitating, costly, and potentially life-threatening. In 1999, the John A. Hartford Foundation and other funders invested more than $11 million to test the IMPACT (Improving Mood, Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment) Team Care Model, an innovative strategy for treating depression that is now improving the lives of older adults across the country.
The IMPACT model, in which a nurse or psychologist partners with a primary care physician to monitor a patient’s treatments, is twice as effective in reducing depressive symptoms as the previous standard of care. Subsequent studies found that IMPACT also led to lower average medical care costs for patients and health care practices.
Beyond the data, the outcomes of IMPACT are personal, and even transformative. “I am back to who I was and happy with it,” says one patient who benefitted from the program. “My symptoms have all gone. There are no longer those terrible swings, up and down...” More patient stories are available at IMPACT’s website.
Since 2004, sustained funding from the Hartford Foundation, as well as other private and public funders, has led to the use of IMPACT throughout the nation.
The project team, based at the University of Washington and supported by consultants nationwide, has provided training to more than 3,000 doctors and assisted 200 clinics and health care organizations in adopting the IMPACT model. From rural villages in Alaska to New York City’s Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, primary care practices are using IMPACT every day to change the way depression is treated and most importantly, to help older adults reclaim their lives.
View a news clip on Project IMPACT and
how it can can transform lives: