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Utilization of Whole Health and Longitudinal Outcomes After Screening Positive for Possible Depression Documented in Veterans Health Administration's Electronic Health Record.
Reed DE, Chen C, Harvey K, Engel CC, Kroenke K, Defaccio R, Coggeshall S, Taylor SL, Bokhour BG, Zeliadt SB. Utilization of Whole Health and Longitudinal Outcomes After Screening Positive for Possible Depression Documented in Veterans Health Administration's Electronic Health Record. Journal of integrative and complementary medicine. 2023 Apr 11.
Depression is common among Veterans. Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is transforming into a Whole Health system of care that includes holistic treatment planning, well-being programs, and health coaching. This evaluation explores the impact of Whole Health on improving symptoms of depression among Veterans who screen positive for possible depression diagnosis. We examined a cohort of Veterans who started using Whole Health after screening positive for possible depression (having a PHQ-2 score = 3) at 18 VA Whole Health sites. We compared Whole Health users with non-Whole Health users on their follow-up PHQ-2 scores (9-36 months after baseline), using propensity score matching with multivariable regression to adjust for baseline differences. Of the 13,559 Veterans screening positive for possible depression on the PHQ-2 and having a follow-up PHQ-2, 902 (7%) began using Whole Health after their initial positive PHQ-2. Whole Health users at baseline were more likely than non-Whole Health users to have posttraumatic stress disorder or acute stress (43% vs. 29%), anxiety (22% vs. 12%), ongoing opioid use (14% vs. 8%), recent severe pain scores (15% vs. 8%), or obesity (51% vs. 40%). Both groups improved at follow-up, with mean PHQ-2 scores decreasing from 4.49 to 1.77 in the Whole Health group and 4.46 to 1.46 in the conventional care group, with the Whole Health group significantly higher at follow-up. Also, the proportion continuing to screen positive at follow-up trended higher in the Whole Health group (26% and 21%, respectively). After screening positive for depression, Veterans with more mental and physical health conditions were more likely to subsequently use Whole Health services, suggesting that Whole Health is becoming a tool used in VHA to address the needs of complex patients. Nevertheless, the Whole Health group did not improve compared to the Conventional Care group. Results add to the growing body of literature that Whole Health services may play an important role among patients with complex symptom presentations by promoting self-management of symptoms and targeting "what matters most" to Veterans.