Kaiser implements new mental health screening for breast cancer patients 

Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente implemented a new depression screening initiative for breast cancer patients after new research showed the intervention was successful in identifying patients needing behavioral healthcare, MyNewsLA reported. 

The study, published Jan. 4 in JAMA, screened 1,436 breast cancer patients across six medical centers who had oncologic consultations between Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018. Researchers divided the patients into two groups; in one group, physicians and nurses received education about depression and follow-up support, in the second group, the control group, physicians and nurses received only education. Screening was administered using  the Patient Health Questionnaire 9-item version.

Researchers found 80 percent of patients in the interventional group completed screening versus the less than 1 percent of patients in the control group. Ten percent of interventional group patients scored in the range of needing a behavioral health referral. Of those, 94 percent received referrals. 

"Early identification and treatment for mental health issues is critical, yet depression and other mental health issues are often underidentified and undertreated in breast cancer patients," said Erin Hahn, PhD, lead author and a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. "Our study showed that the use of implementation strategies to facilitate depression screening is highly effective and provided insights into how to create a sustainable program to help our cancer patients achieve the best possible health."

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