Funding worth $1 million for depression-related research

A University of Melbourne research project called DIAMOND will share in Victorian Government funding worth $1 million for depression-related research.

The funding will support the establishment of a network of researchers working to enhance the management of depression in primary care.

Victoria’s Minister for Health, Ms Bronwyn Pike named the DIAMOND project recently as one of 16 successful applicants for the 2004 ‘beyondblue’ Victorian Centre of Excellence in Depression and Related Disorders research grants.

The research network will build on an already established NHMRC funded investigation into the management of depression in Australian general practice.

Leading the group is Associate Professor Jane Gunn, working with colleagues in the University’s Department of General Practice and collaborative partners from St Vincent’s Mental Health and Monash and Newcastle Universities.

Associate Professor Gunn says there is considerable controversy about how readily depressed patients are diagnosed by their GP and how effective management is in the general practice setting.

“Around 60% of patients seen in general practice with depression will fully recover and remain well. The remainder will experience persistent and relapsing depression and there is only limited knowledge about what happens to this group,” she says.

The DIAMOND project hopes to shed light on both of these vital questions.

The researchers also aim to provide patients experiencing depression with a chance to have a say about the health care they receive.

Associate Professor Gunn says DIAMOND brings together a network of researchers, clinicians, policy makers and consumers with a single goal.

“The aim is to create an evidence base on which to build a primary care system that promotes emotional well-being and provides Australians experiencing depression with accessible, responsive and effective management options to assist their recovery and maintain well-being,” she says.

“We have a strong focus on the system of primary care – one which is currently not well documented. Indeed, as a Nation we have no policy on what the primary health care system is or should be.”

She says the researchers hope their research will be able to contribute evidence and further this debate.

The team will assess the experiences and attitudes of both GP and patient in the care and treatment of depression and will include 600 randomly selected patients from each of 30 randomly selected general practices in urban and rural Victoria, including a mix of bulk-billing centres, private clinics, male and female doctors and those with a deeper interest in mental health.

A pilot study will commence in Ballarat in June and a Victoria-wide study later in the year. Anyone interested in participating in the study should contact Ms Maria Potiriadis on 8344 9719 or e-mail [email protected], http://www.unimelb.edu.au

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