Importance Controversy remains about whether depression can be successfully managed after acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and the costs and benefits of doing so.
Objective To determine the effects of providing post-ACS depression care on depressive symptoms and health care costs.
Design Multicenter randomized controlled trial.
Setting Patients were recruited from 2 private and 5 academic ambulatory centers across the United States.
Participants A total of 150 patients with elevated depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory [BDI] score ≥10) 2 to 6 months after an ACS, recruited between March 18, 2010, and January 9, 2012.
Interventions Patients were randomized to 6 months of centralized depression care (patient preference for problem-solving treatment given via telephone or the Internet, pharmacotherapy, both, or neither), stepped every 6 to 8 weeks (active treatment group; n = 73), or to locally determined depression care after physician notification about the patient's depressive symptoms (usual care group; n = 77).
Main Outcome Measures Change in depressive symptoms during 6 months and total health care costs.
Results Depressive symptoms decreased significantly more in the active treatment group than in the usual care group (differential change between groups, −3.5 BDI points; 95% CI, −6.1 to −0.7; P = .01). Although mental health care estimated costs were higher for active treatment than for usual care, overall health care estimated costs were not significantly different (difference adjusting for confounding, −$325; 95% CI, −$2639 to $1989; P = .78).
Conclusions For patients with post-ACS depression, active treatment had a substantial beneficial effect on depressive symptoms. This kind of depression care is feasible, effective, and may be cost-neutral within 6 months; therefore, it should be tested in a large phase 3 pragmatic trial.
Trial Registration clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01032018