Tagmedications

Reading of the Week: Should You Google Your Patients? Can Telemedicine Help with Medication Adherence?

From the Editor

A few years ago, a patient told me that he had won the lottery. When I expressed some surprise (and skepticism), he replied: google my name. I did, and he had won the lottery.

We google restaurant suggestions, people in the news, and our partner’s new bff.  But is googling your patients ethical? Is it advisable?

In the first selection, we look at a new paper from Psychiatric Services. Yale University’s Charles C. Dike and his co-authors consider these questions and more. They conclude: “Except in emergencies, it is advisable to obtain a patient’s informed consent before performing an Internet or social media search for information about the patient or the patient’s family and significant others.”

3888Does a good history include a good google of your patients?

For the second selection, we consider another paper from Psychiatric Services; the authors ask whether telemedicine can help with medication adherence. In this study, the University of Greifswald’s Lara N. Schulze and her co-authors use texting and phone calls. Spoiler alert: the intervention worked.

And a quick request: I’m looking for feedback on the Reading series. Please take a few minutes to complete the (anonymous) online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GP5XXMB.

Note: there will be no Readings for the next two weeks.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Depression and Employment

I want to get back to work… I want to get back to my life.

A patient recently made this comment to me. Before his depression, he had thrived at a government job and taken great pride in his work. (He showed me iPhone pictures of an event he had helped organize which was keynoted by the premier.) But in the cloud of depression, he left his job, and worried that he would never have another one.

This raises a simple question: how do you get patients like this back to work?

It seems like an obvious question to ask – and very relevant one. After all, many people with depression are off work, or have left the workforce altogether. A Towers Watson report considered disability in North America; mental health issues (typically “depression, anxiety and stress”) contribute to 78% of short-term and 67% of long-term disability claims in Canada. Let’s put that in perspective: for short-term disability, cancer was well under half that.

Yet if the burden of illness is great, little has been written about interventions to get patients with depression back to work. A 2008 Cochrane review identified only 11 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on interventions aimed at reducing work disability in workers with major depressive disorder (and just four studies including work functioning as an outcome measure). A more recent Cochrane review considered 13 randomized controlled trials; only three studies, for example, looked at antidepressant therapy.

That’s why this week’s Reading is so interesting. “Gains in employment status following antidepressant medication or cognitive therapy for depression” by Jay C. Fournier et al. compares drug management with psychological interventions (CBT). Continue reading