The prevalence of depression in primary care is high. Primary care physicians serve as the initial point of contact for most patients with depression, yet it is estimated that only about half of the depressed patients who present for care are recognized and treated. Language barriers can further exacerbate this problem. Approximately 54 million people in the United States speak a language other than English at home and over 21 million are limited English-language proficient (LEP). Language barriers may result in less discussion about patients'mental health needs, and fewer referrals to specialty mental health services. Recent advances in health information technology (HIT), however, may facilitate novel ways to screen for mental health problems among limited English proficient patients. The HIT intervention in this study will have four components: 1) web- based training for the providers;2) multimedia electronic screening of patients for depression and PTSD;3) immediate electronic notification system for the health care providers and integration with the patients'electronic health records (EHR);and 4) provider clinical decision support. In a randomized, controlled trial in a primary care setting, we will assess the potential of a multi-component health information technology intervention to improve the screening rates, clinical detection, provider initiation of treatment, and patient outcomes for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder among LEP Southeast Asians. We also will examine the usability and acceptability of this technology to patients with limited English skills and their providers. Finally, we will identify and evaluate potential facilitators and barriers to wide spread implementation and dissemination of the HIT intervention. This technology has the potential to be adapted and utilized for any group of limited English-language proficient (LEP) patients, regardless of their native language, and has the potential to be adapted for providers to aid in the recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health problems in diverse primary care settings.

Public Health Relevance

This study assesses the potential of Health Information Technology (HIT) to improve the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of depression and post-traumatic stress among LEP Southeast Asians. Should this intervention be found to be effective, the principles of the HIT technology could be easily adapted for screening in other languages to increase the recognition and treatment of depression and PTSD in primary care settings.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Mental Health Services in Non-Specialty Settings (SRNS)
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Azrin, Susan
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University of California Irvine
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Biegler, Kelly; Mollica, Richard; Sim, Susan Elliott et al. (2016) Rationale and study protocol for a multi-component Health Information Technology (HIT) screening tool for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in the primary care setting. Contemp Clin Trials 50:66-76
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