Phone Counseling Program Helps Boston Heart Patients Become Less Depressed, More Functional

Evaluating the effectiveness of telephone counseling in managing depression associated with chronic medical illness

Researchers at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Boston tested a short-term telephone counseling program for effectiveness in improving coping skills and reducing depression and anxiety among patients who had recently experienced acute coronary syndrome.

Key Findings

  • Patients who received the intervention had a 27 percent improvement in depression symptoms, a 27 percent improvement in anxiety and a 38 percent improvement in their ability to carry out home management activities. Patients who did not receive the intervention did not show a comparable improvement.

  • Patients who received telephone counseling showed no greater improvement in workplace functioning than patients who received care as usual. Both groups showed an overall improvement over time.