Depression is common amongst older people, with one in seven meeting the criteria for full-blown depression. Older people at the greatest risk of depression are those who suffer from loneliness and long-term illnesses, both of which affect this age group disproportionately.
Being depressed can also make health problems worse and older people with depression are at an increased risk of dying. The CASPER Plus clinical trial focussed on older people with depression.
We developed an innovative treatment for older people (aged 65 or over) with depression. This treatment, Collaborative Care, involved a case manager co-ordinating different aspects of a person's care and working with them over 8-10 weekly sessions. We designed the treatment to be a simple and low cost way of helping people with depression. Each participant also received usual care from their GP.
We then tested the treatment by comparing it with usual GP care alone. Each person taking part was given one type of care. This was decided by chance, like the roll of a dice. We then compared how people who received Collaborative Care fared, compared to those who received usual GP care.
We are currently examining the results of this trial and writing them up ready for publication. We are also planning to conduct a one-off extended follow-up with participants in the trial.
CASPER Plus was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Its formal title is the CollAborative care and active surveillance for Screen-Positive EldeRs Plus (CASPER Plus) trial. Its funder reference number is 10-57-43. We received ethics approval from Leeds East Ethics Research Committee. CASPER Plus is registered with the ISRCTN Registry and its number is ISRCTN45842879.
More details about the research can be found at https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/hta/105743/#/. The original trial plan was published at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25409776. A sub-study of the trial has been published at https://bmcfampract.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s12875-015-0362-2?site=bmcfampract.biomedcentral.com.