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Their 12-week study of 180 patients found that nearly 61 percent of those who received integrated care combined with a brief program to help them adhere to their medication regimens achieved improved blood sugar test results, and almost 59 percent had a reduction in depression symptoms.
Among patients who received usual primary care for the two conditions, nearly 36 percent had improved blood sugar test results and about 31 percent had a reduction in depression symptoms, said the researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The study appears in the January/February issue of the journal Annals of Family Medicine.
There is a link between depression and diabetes, the researchers noted. Depression is a risk factor for diabetes, and diabetes also increases the risk of depression. Depression is common in diabetes patients and contributes to poor adherence to diabetes medication regimens, which can lead to poorer diabetes management.
In the integrated treatment group, care managers worked with participants to increase their adherence to both diabetes and depression medications, addressing barriers such as medicine costs and lack of social support.
"Though research demonstrates the link between depression and diabetes, few integrated programs are being implemented in practice," study lead author Dr. Hillary Bogner, an assistant professor of Family Medicine and Community Health in the Perelman School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
"Our results demonstrate that integrated treatment for both conditions, combined with a brief program focused on adherence for primary care patients with type 2 diabetes and depression can result in a significant improvement in clinical outcomes. We hope the findings will encourage the adoption of adherence programs aimed at improving outcomes," Bogner added.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania, news release, January 2012