Investigative Teams help patients help themselves

15 April 2010

Evidence increasingly suggests that gaining skills — not taking pills — may be the most helpful approach for people with mild to moderate depression. Last year the evaluation of an MSFHR-funded Investigative Team's work demonstrated the importance of the family doctor's role in facilitating such skill-development.

The approach, known as supported self-management, involves family doctors helping their patients by applying proven techniques used in cognitive behavioural therapy. After training, and armed with tools like the Antidepressant Skills Workbook, a physician can provide self-care resources during a regular patient visit.

The team that developed the workbook, the Mental Health and Addiction Services and Policy Investigative Team, was one of five Investigative Teams funded through MSFHR's Health Services and Policy Research Support Network between 2005 and 2010.

"Our research program was successful in helping those on the front line of care delivery," says Dr. Elliot Goldner, Professor, SFU Faculty of Health Sciences and the team's lead. "Specific tools developed with the concept of supported self-management make it easier for family doctors to deliver mental health and addictions care."

Over 1,000 BC family physicians have been trained on the tools for the project through a mental health module developed through the BC Ministry of Health Services-BC Medical Association’s General Practice Services Committee. Vancouver physician Dr. Rozmin Kamani, a trainer and advisor for the module, says hundreds of patients are already benefiting from the tools: "The Antidepressent Skills Workbook is one of the key tools being used to improve primary mental health care in BC."