Phone-based therapy may offer an additional treatment for patients with depression and anxiety issues, according to the Los Angeles Times. A study conducted under the direction of Dr. Kurt Kroenke found that cancer patients who were given the chance to fill out online surveys or receive phone calls form a nurse to talk about their symptoms dealt better with depression than those who did not receive the treatment.
The study whose results were published in the July 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association has implications in the treatment for other mental illness that respond to talk therapy and other conditions, such as diabetes, where a patient who talks about his symptoms can help manage the condition.
Anxiety and depression are most often treated with talk therapy in addition to medication. Reaching someone over the telephone may help reduce the need to face to face meetings with a therapist or provide additional support.
The study chose cancer patients because pain, depression and fatigue were the most common symptoms. Doctors and nurses may complete their rounds, but a busy schedule may prevent them from taking the time to talk to each patient about his or her personal experiences. Automated calls or the online surveys were used to make sure the patients were not missed during the course of the study.
The patients who received phone calls dealt with the depression issues caused by different types of cancer than those who did not. When the study concluded, 57% of the patients who received the phone sessions experienced less severe symptoms of depression than those who did not. The core group reported only a 43% improvement.
The study confirms the finding of a 2009 survey conducted in the United Kingdom. A similar system was used for mothers after they gave child birth. Participants who received the phone calls reported a reduced rate of post-partum depression.