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GRK 2621 - Predictors and outcomes in primary depression care (POKAL)

  • Speaker: Prof. Dr. Jochen Gensichen
  • Affiliation: Institute of General Practice and Family Medicine
  • Funding: 2021 to 2026

Both the prevalence and complexity of mental illness are increasing in parallel with societal ageing. Depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental illness. General practitioners (GPs) play an important role in the care of patients with depression, as they usually make the initial diagnosis and, particularly in the case of mild and moderate disorders, are responsible for treating them. The detection and treatment of depression, however, presents GPs with special challenges. Somatic comorbidities can mask a depression, making it difficult to select a suitable therapy and to decide how to implement it. This endangers both the success of the therapy and the safety of the depression treatment. Guideline recommendations can therefore only be implemented to a limited extent in patients with mental illness or multimorbidity.

Our goal is to support GPs in coping with these challenges and to improve the care of patients with depression. In three research projects each on diagnosis, treatment and implementation, new instruments adapted to the Primary Care context are systematically developed along the Chronic Care Model (CCM). A new algorithm will be developed to support diagnostics; in its generation process, physiological and GP-related factors will be considered in addition to established parameters. A new approach for the detection of suicidal behaviour will be piloted and optimized. Instruments of psychoeducation, monitoring/case management and medication control will be developed and evaluated. Barriers and potentials for the implementation of innovations in health care are systematically identified and tailored solutions are developed, optimised and evaluated.

Promising scientists will be trained who will further develop clinical research in the field of general practice and will support both service providers and health care payers in improving care structures, processes and results. For this purpose, a comprehensive qualification concept has been developed, which enables graduates of relevant subjects with initial work experience, as well as prospective GPs to receive a structured scientific education parallel to their clinical training.

Cooperation between two general practice institutes with institutes of clinical psychology, psychiatry and psychosomatics in one location, and internationally experienced and award winning PIs will, along with further international cooperation partners in research and education, enable POKAL to stand out as a unique project that can sustainably improve the care of patients with depression in primary care.

Source: GRK 2621