While primary care physicians play a pivotal role in the treatment of depression, collaboration between primary care and psychiatry in clinical research has been limited. Primary care settings provide unique opportunities to improve the methodology of psychiatric clinical trials, by providing more generalizable and less treatment-resistant patients. We examined the feasibility of identifying, recruiting, screening and assessing primary care patients for psychiatric clinical trials using high-quality videoconferencing in a mock clinical trial.
1329 patients at two primary care clinics completed a self-report questionnaire. Those screening positive for major depression, panic, or generalized anxiety were given a diagnostic interview via videoconference. Those eligible were provided treatment as usual by their primary care physician, and had 6 weekly assessments by the off-site clinician via videoconferencing.
45 patients were enrolled over 22 weeks, with 36 (80%) completing the six-week study with no more than two missed appointments. All diagnostic groups improved significantly; 94% reported they would participate again, 87% would recommend participation to others, 96% felt comfortable communicating via videoconference, and 94% were able to satisfactorily communicate their feelings via video.
Results showed that primary care patients will enroll, participate in and complete psychiatric research protocols using remote interviews conducted via videoconference.